Survive the Drive: The deep toll the road took on Joanne's family | Photos

Joanne Burgoyne’s dad was her world.

But on June 23, 2007, in an instant, that world came crashing down.

Graham Bryant, 51, was on the way to a friend’s house in Murray Bridge, South Australia, his wife Cathryn just three minutes behind in the car, when a woman shot through a give way sign. 

Unable to stop his bike in time, he collided with the car’s side at about 80kms/hr, dying almost instantly. His wife was the first on the scene. 

“I can replay that phone call… I got it about 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, at the Wagga Botanic Gardens,” Ms Burgoyne said. 

“I got on the phone to my mum, and she just went Joanne are you sitting down? I said yes, and she said your father’s been killed, he’s dead.

“And that’s all I remember, me going no, no, no, screaming at mum.” 

Ten years later, the pain is still incredibly raw. 

“I don’t think you ever come to terms with it, it becomes manageable but never gets better,” she said.

Joanne was just 24 when she lost her father, caught up in organising the funeral she says her grief had to be put on hold. 

It’s a song, if I see a certain flower I know was my dad’s favourite, it’s a smell, it’s a date, father’s day, his birthday, Christmas.

Joanne Burgoyne

“My grieving process didn’t start really until six months after my dad’s death, I was just so worried about mum being on her own, multiple phone calls every day just to make sure she’d eaten something,” she said. 

When it finally sunk in, she was working in disability support. Her workplace banded around her, putting her in touch with counselling, but the pain that tore through her life then still sits just below the surface. 

“It’s a song, if I see a certain flower I know was my dad’s favourite, it’s a smell, it’s a date, father’s day, his birthday, Christmas.

“They’re all hard and they don’t get easier- and that’s what I don’t think people realise- is the effect it has and how long that effect lasts." 

Graham Bryant left behind a wife of 25 years and two young daughters, 24 and 19. Joanne’s first child was 18 months old when he died. He missed seeing her three children grow up, on walking her sister Pamela down the aisle, celebrating her 21st birthday and seeing her kids born.  

In NSW in 2016, 67 motorcyclists were killed on the road, 45 of them died in the country. 

Despite fatality trends for drivers, pedestrians, and passengers falling generally since 1996, for motor and pedal cyclists the change has been minimal. 

In his life Graham was a passionate rider, the president of the Midstate Motorcycle Club in Parkes for many years and long-term advocate for safety on the road. 

Joanne remembers him lobbying in parliament for safe head wear for infants in sidecars, and recalls how strict he was with his children’s riding. 

Every time you get behind a wheel, handlebars of a bike or a push bike you’re in a weapon

Joanne Burgoyne

It’s a sad consolation that his family always thought he’d go on his bike, but Joanne wishes is wasn’t for such a senseless reason. 

The driver of the car claimed not to see Mr Bryant, and managed to avoid time in jail. In the aftermath of the accident, the stigma surrounding her dad’s passion was difficult to bear. 

"People on motorbikes get a bad rap as much a P-platers, truck drivers, bus drivers. My dad had insulin that was the only drug in his system and he painted him to be a drug dealer,” she said.

Despite years of court cases resulting in little justice for the heartbroken family, they’ve fought and won their own battles. They had a stop sign installed at the give way where Graham was killed. 

“We went down a few years ago to Adelaide and came home past the site where it happened and there’s a photo of mum just beaming pointing at this stop sign.

“It just means so much to us and means nothing to anyone else but we fought for that, that’s my dad’s stop sign. 

“I wish it was there- and I hope it stops that happening again.” 

She said she hopes her story inspires people to be aware, stop being complacent, and consider the real impact an accident can have. 

“Every time you get behind a wheel, handlebars of a bike or a push bike you’re in a weapon, it might not be a gun but it can still kill people. 

“We know the pain- no family, no wife, daughters, brothers, sisters anything needs to feel this pain. It’s just a matter of being aware of your surroundings on the road and checking your mirrors, blind spots, none of us are perfect but we can all try a little bit harder.” 


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