The Avon Descent 2023

The Avon Descent

If you’re looking for an exciting and unique way to spend your weekend, watching the Avon Descent is a must-see event. This two-day race is held annually in Western Australia and attracts competitors from all over the world. The Avon Descent is a challenging and thrilling race that takes place on the Avon and Swan Rivers, where participants navigate through rapids, rocks, and other obstacles.

Watching the Avon Descent is an incredible experience that allows you to witness the skill and determination of the competitors as they tackle the challenging course. The race is divided into two categories: paddle and power. Paddle participants use kayaks or canoes, while power participants use boats with motors. The race starts in Northam and finishes in Bayswater, covering a distance of over 124 kilometres. Spectators can watch the race from various vantage points along the river, including the start and finish lines, as well as several designated viewing areas.


The History of the Avon Descent

The Avon Descent was first held in 1973, and it has since become one of the most iconic events in Western Australia. The race was originally designed to promote the Avon River as a recreational area, and it quickly gained popularity among white-water enthusiasts. Today, the Avon Descent attracts competitors from all over the world, and it is considered a major event in the international white-water racing calendar.

The Course

The Avon Descent course is divided into two stages. The first stage covers a distance of 57 kilometres from Northam to Walyunga National Park, and the second stage covers a distance of 67 kilometres from Walyunga National Park to Bayswater. The course features a variety of rapids, including the notorious Hell’s Gate, which is known for its steep drop and turbulent waters. Competitors must navigate the course in kayaks, canoes, or rafts, and they must be skilled in reading the water and avoiding obstacles.

The Competitors

The Avon Descent attracts a wide range of competitors, from professional white-water racers to amateur enthusiasts. Competitors are divided into different categories based on their age, gender, and type of craft. The most competitive category is the single kayak category, which features some of the best white-water racers in the world.

The Spectators

The Avon Descent is not just a race for competitors – it’s also a major event for spectators. The course is lined with viewing areas where spectators can watch the action up close, and there are also live broadcasts of the race on television and online. Spectators can also enjoy a range of activities, including food and drink stalls, live music, and children’s entertainment.

Key Events in the Avon Descent

If you’re planning to watch the Avon Descent, it’s important to know the key events that take place during the race. Here are the three main checkpoints to keep an eye on:

Start Line

The Avon Descent starts at Northam’s Riverside Park, where competitors launch their crafts into the Avon River. The start line is always a hive of activity, with spectators and supporters cheering on their favourite teams. If you’re planning to watch the start of the race, be sure to arrive early to secure a good spot.

Bells Rapids

Bells Rapids is the halfway point of the Avon Descent, and is a popular spot for spectators to watch the race. Here, competitors must navigate through a series of rapids, making it a thrilling section of the race to watch. There are a number of vantage points along the riverbank where you can watch the action unfold.

Finish Line

The Avon Descent finishes at Riverside Gardens in Bayswater, where competitors must complete a gruelling 124-kilometre course. The finish line is always a great place to watch the race, with a festive atmosphere as supporters cheer on their teams. There are plenty of food and drink options available, so you can make a day of it.

That’s it for the key events in the Avon Descent. Whether you’re a seasoned spectator or a first-timer, these are the checkpoints you won’t want to miss.


Best Viewing Locations

If you’re planning to watch the Avon Descent, you need to know the best viewing locations to get the most out of the experience. Here are some great spots to catch all the action:

1. Cobbler Pool

Cobbler Pool is a popular viewing spot for the Avon Descent. It is located near the starting line of the race and offers a great view of the competitors as they set off on their journey. This spot is perfect for those who want to see the racers up close and personal.

2. Bells Rapids

Bells Rapids is another great spot to watch the Avon Descent. This spot is perfect for those who want to see the racers navigate the rapids.

3. Walyunga National Park

Walyunga National Park is a great option for those who want to watch the Avon Descent in a more relaxed setting. You can bring a picnic and enjoy the scenery while you watch the racers go by.

4. Finish Line

If you want to see the winners cross the finish line, then the finish line is the place to be. The finish line is located at Riverside Gardens in Bayswater and offers a great view of the racers as they cross the finish line.

Overall, there are many great viewing locations for the Avon Descent. Whether you want to see the racers up close or enjoy the scenery, there is a spot for everyone.

Avon Descent 2023 Events

Friday 11th August

Northam Bilya Festival – Avon Descent Start Line

Come to Northam’s Bilya Festival! Enjoy our spectacular community street parade and immerse yourself in a winter wonderland, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Avon Descent.  Offering the most exciting amusements, food stalls, and live entertainment that you’ll find in the Avon Valley this year! Come and celebrate the evening in style with the Shire of Northam.

More information

Saturday 12th August

Toodyay International Food Fest

Combine the thrill of the Avon Descent with delicious international cuisine. The Shire of Toodyay’s International Food Fest will keep visitors fed and entertained on Saturday, 12 August 2023. Just an hour’s drive from the CBD, come and enjoy international cuisine from all corners of the globe, including international music and entertainment.

More information

Sunday 13th August

City of Swan Avon Descent Festival

This year’s City of Swan Avon Descent Festival will feature a series of family-orientated events held alongside the 50th Avon Descent race. This fun-filled weekend is the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and experience the excitement of the race, which passes through the Swan Valley vineyard region, Upper Swan Bridge and Bells Rapids. At the festival, spectators can sample delicious gourmet food and wine from local growers as you wander through pop-up artisan markets. Watch and cheer from arguably the best seat in the house, the banks of Lilac Hill, as competitors paddle and race by.  

More information



Join support crews and spectators to welcome competitors over the finish line at the City of Bayswater Avon Descent Finish Line Festival. Enjoy a sensational FREE day out with bouncy castles, children’s rides, face painting and live commentary over the loud speakers.

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City of Belmont Avon Descent

Don’t miss a moment of the race with live feed, race commentary, family friendly activities, discounted food and beverages and more!

Get up close to the action with a free day of fun on the Swan River.

Don’t miss a moment of the race with live feed, race commentary, family friendly activities, discounted food and beverages and more in the beautiful surrounds of Garvey Park.

With competitors gliding through the City of Belmont toward the finish line, this community event is perfect to witness the marathon section of the Avon Descent 2023.

$5 Swan Café food and beverage vouchers will be available to attendees to enjoy on the day (while stocks last, and limits apply).

Cheer on competitors as they head towards the finish line of this intense 124km white water race.

This year, we celebrate the Avon Descent’s remarkable journey of 50 years, uniting adventurers, and nature enthusiasts in a thrilling river race like no other.

More information

City of Bayswater Avon Descent Finish Line Festival 2023

Nothing beats an exciting finish! Join support crews and spectators in welcoming competitors over the finish line of the 50th Avon Descent at the City of Bayswater Finish Line Festival. Listen to live commentary and watch the race live on the big screen. Enjoy a sensational day of free entertainment, children’s activities, food and more, while celebrating the natural beauty of the Swan River (Derbal Yerrigan) and its cultural and spiritual significance to the Noongar people.

More information


About Jennie McNichol

Jennie McNichol is the Co-Founder and Editor of Seniorocity and Buggybuddys. She lives north of Perth with her husband, 2 children, 2 Ragdoll Cats and 1 Maine Coon

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