"It was like something out of Mad Max."
That's how Danielle Dionis felt while driving through a raging dust storm on the way from Narrabri into Texas on the border of Queensland.
She and seven motorcyclists from Griffith have returned from an epic voyage around NSW for the Black Dog Ride, which raises awareness and money for mental health and suicide prevention.
The Griffith riders chose to travel through dry, outback country towns where the drought had been hitting the hardest.
"A lot of farmers are really doing it tough - there's not a blade of grass, and when you travel through that expanse you realise these people have nothing," Miss Dionis said.
"They tell you their stories, and they just blow you away because they're real, they're honest, they're straight from the heart."
They travelled from country town to country town, sparking conversations all around NSW until they reached their final destination in Byron Bay.
The Griffith team raised around $20,000 for suicide prevention, making them the top fundraising team in NSW.
But for Miss Dionis the most important part of the Black Dog Ride are the conversations had along the way and the attempt to encourage people to open up, talk about their mental health, and seek help.
Seven riders from Griffith jumped on board the cause: Lawrence Favero, Stephen Cadorin, Carl Snaidero, Michael Keenan, Glen Dal Broi, Garry Dillest, and Louis Cadorin.
The Griffith team met many people along the way, one of whom was Andrew North - a fellow Black Dog Rider who was making the trek all around Australia.
He made a pit stop in Griffith on his way back home after a seven-week long journey, and looking back he said he'd had the time of his life.
"I realised what a beautiful country that we have, and to visit part of it was really special," Mr North said.
"It was an amazing experience."
It was the ten-year anniversary of Black Dog Ride, and all funds from the event will go towards suicide prevention and mental health services.
If you suffer from mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, there are many service available such as Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or the Griffith Suicide Prevention and Support Group on 1300 133 911.
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