About Us

Welcome to the Avon Descent

The two-day 124km adventure challenge from Northam to Bayswater, Western Australia. Powerboat, Kayak, Ski or SUP as a Single, Double or Relay Team. Are you ready to Take the Plunge?

The two-day course starts with a 52-kilometre stretch beginning in the town of Northam, 100km east of Perth. The course proceeds downriver through the town of Toodyay into the upper reaches of the Darling Range escarpment. The overnight stop is at Cobbler Pool, 20km west of Toodyay.

Day 2 is 72km long and sees participants tackle the valley containing the major whitewater obstacles and challenges of the event including Supershoot, Emu Falls, Championship Rapids and Bells Rapids. The rush of the valley leaves participants with the marathon 30km, flat water stretch to Bays water. While the victorious burst their way over the Finish Line the achievers are happy just to finish. 

The Avon Descent was first held during 1973 with just 49 competitors, no rules, no officials, no checkpoints and very few spectators. In the years since, more than 35,000 people have participated in the Avon Descent, from novices and families, to World Champions and Olympic competitors.

Geographic background

The Avon River drains the Great Southern and Upper Great Southern regions, actually starting as a river near Wickepin. The Avon River is 295km in length and the basin covers an area of 120,000 square km, extending from Northam in the west to Southern Cross in the east, north to Dalwallinu and south to Pingrup. From its confluence with Wooroloo Brook in Walyunga National Park the Avon becomes the Swan River. Approximately 60% of the Swan River's flow is from the Avon River.  
The main Northam Pool on the Avon River (start point for the Avon Descent) is the only permanent stretch of natural inland water along the entire Great Eastern Highway between Perth and Adelaide.  
The Avon Descent passes through some of Western Australia’s most picturesque country. You will travel through the farming regions of historic Northam and Toodyay, forested national parks, steep gorges, the Swan Valley vineyard region and, eventually, into the tidal waters of the upper Swan River.
  The Avon Descent offers participants conditions ranging from long stretches of flat water that can test the endurance of the fittest athlete through to rapids, sure to test the skills of all who attempt to navigate their unknown contours. 

Special Achievement Awards

In 2023, Northam’s Avon Descent ASsociation acknowledged the following Special Achievement Awards in celebration of the 50th Avon Descent.


“Lifetime Achievement Award” to Rex Adams
The second ever Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented (the first was presented posthumously to Jim Smith in 2019), Rex was a member of the management committee for the inaugural event held in 1973 where he served as the inaugural Secretary and Treasurer. Rex has the sole and distinct honour of being the only individual to have that continuous connection to every effort since 1973.


Charlie Elliott – competing in both the 1973 (first) and 2023 (50th) events

Charlie’s association with the Avon Descent started in 1973 in the inaugural event. He went on to compete in 32 Avon Descents and has accumulated several class wins in single kayaks. In 2023 and at age 83, Charlie competed on Day 1 and Day 2 with son Tony and daughter-in-law Phyllis, in a triple surf ski of his own design.


Doug Lacklison – competing in both the 1973 (first) and 2023 (50th) events

Doug is also one of the original 1973 Descenters and in 2023, at the age of 73, competed in his 14th Avon Descent.


Bevan Dashwood and Neville Binning – First and Only Outright Winning Paddle Craft in the Avon Descent’s history

There has only ever been one first and only outright winning paddle craft in the 50-event history of the Avon Descent. Bevan and Neville paddled in the Open Men’s double kayak division in a WK2 in extremely low water conditions with high attrition rates of both paddle craft and power craft.

Gary McNamara – Most Avon Descents by a Power Craft competitor

Gary has committed to the Avon Descent as a way of life for more than 40 years and is the most experienced of all power craft competitors in the Avon Descent. As a member of the Power Dinghy Racing Club, in 2023 Gary competed in his 44th Avon Descent. Gary has raced with his sons, stepson and grandson making the Avon Descent truly an intergenerational experience for the McNamara family.


Ron Clarke – Most Avon Descents by a Paddle Craft competitor

Having completed 34 Avon Descents, Ron’s commitment to the Avon Descent is second to none.


Darryl Long – Most Class wins by an Avon Descent Competitor 1973 – 2023 ‘Power or Paddle’

Darryl is the record holder for two categories:

–  Single kayak WK1, in 1983, at 7:56:09

– Double Kayak in 1996 with P Genovesi at 7:14:40


Kris Parnell and Tyron Wilson – record holders for powercraft

Kris and Tyron, or the 190 Racing team as they may be better known, claimed the record in 2021 in the 10Hp Sports class. They completed the Northam to Bayswater course in just under 2hours – 01 hour 59 minutes and 30 seconds, to be exact.


Josh Kippin – record holder for paddle craft 

Also in 2021, Josh is the fastest single paddler to complete the full 124km Northam to Bayswater course – doing so in a single kayak in 7 hours 27 minutes and 01 second.