The Avon Descent is Western Australia’s own unique sporting event that attracts competitors and spectators from throughout Australia and overseas. 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 become Avon Descenters and competed in the Avon Descent, from novices and families, to World and Olympic Champions.

The Avon Descent has all of the ingredients of a highly visual, interactive and spectacular event.


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.

Who we are?

The Avon Descent is conducted by the Northam’s Avon Descent Association (NADA).

This Association is run by a Board of Directors that meets on a regular basis to ensure the event is run smoothly and professionally.

Membership of NADA is open to anyone, however, you don’t have to be a Member to help out in the event as a Volunteer.