Welcome to the Avon Descent

Imagine passing 124 km 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.  This is a unique race with a promise that no two paddle strokes will be the same.

 In a snapshot

Distance: 124km

Date: 5 & 6 August 2017

Start location: Northam

Finish location: Riverside Gardens, Bayswater

Who: Power Dinghy Racers and

            Paddle Craft competing as solo, double, or teams of two or four


The Course

The two day course starts with a 52 kilometre stretch beginning at the Town of Northam, 100 kilometres 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 the Boral Campsite located at Cobbler Pool 20 kilometres west of Toodyay.

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


Event Guide

The 2017 Event Guide is coming soon.

In the meantime check out the 2016 guide for a wealth of information for competitors and support crew as well as key spectator locations and MUCH more.




The event wouldn’t be the same without the overnight campsite at the Boral Cobbler Pool. Complete with entertainment, toilet and lighting and emergency facilities. Learn more about the Cobbler Pool Campsite here

Camping not your style?

Check out the below sites for some great alternative accommodation.

Toodyay Visitors centre

Northam Visitor centre

Swan Valley Visitor Centre

Mundaring Visitors Centre




The Avon Descent is one of Western Australia’s oldest and greatest sporting events and attracts competitors and spectators from throughout Australia and the world. Avon Descenters challenge the Avon and Swan rivers in a variety of paddle and power craft in an exciting two-day time trial over 124 gruelling kilometres.

The Avon Descent was first held in 1973 with just 49 competitors, no rules, no officials, no checkpoints and very few spectators. In the years since, over 35,000 people have competed 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 295 kilometres in length and the basin covers an area of 120,000 square kilometres, 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 competitors 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.

What Craft Can Compete

The Avon Descent is open to a range of power dinghies and paddle craft. This combination of craft makes the event unique around the world. Power dinghies are the only power craft racing in white water of this type. The 10hp limit ensures environmental responsibility, but still allows for speeds up to 70kph. The power craft provide much of the exciting viewing action of the Avon Descent.

The paddle section includes a combination of standard and invented craft including single, double and triple kayaks, and single and double surf skis. The event has seen the massive growth and popularity of craft manufactured from polyethylene plastic, relay teams of two and four can also compete. Age restrictions apply.

Power dinghy racing on wild rivers with substantial wild water is unique to Western Australia. In recent years competitors in the Renmark Dinghy Derby have made an impact on the Event.


Recent News and Announcements


Want to get involved?

Avon Descent Support Unit Training

The Avon Descent offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities from rescue and recovery to administration, event management, marketing and graphics design and we are always seeking new talent to help us in delivering an amazing event.

If you are interested in volunteering please visit our Get Involved page today to find out more.

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NOTE: You must use a valid email address. This will become your username and where we will send all Avon Descent correspondence.

Using the same email address you have used in past events will make it much easier for us to retrieve your information.

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