AVON DESCENT

 

 

Avon descent - Western Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Avon Descent is an annual white water event over a 133 kilometre course along the Avon and Swan Rivers. It takes place over two days and (depending on water levels) is usually held in August each year.

 

The event started in 1973 (one source says 1972 but is incorrect) and is open to both power boats and canoes. The starting point is Northam and it finishes at Bayswater (a suburb of Perth.) Jim Paine was the person responsible for getting the event started and he acted as Race Director for 10 years.

 

Water levels in the rivers can vary considerably and the event is not to be taken lightly. The first race saw 49 entries but only 23 of those made it to the finish line. There has also been one fatality during the race when a canoeist got trapped against a bridge and could not be rescued in time. One of the hazards of the race is known as Tea Trees. Here a number of tea trees pose an obstacle for competitors to negotiate. It can be a dangerous spot and having had a canoe trapped against one of these trees and being badly damaged I can attest to this myself.

 

Today the event can attract well over 800 entries and it is Australia's premier white water race.

 

The Avon River starts much further inland near Wickepin, but it is not until it reaches Northam that it is deep enough and wide enough to support a race. There are a number of excellent spots along the river for spectators to watch the boats go racing past and many people make a day of it taking picnic and BBQ lunches along.

 

The Avon used to be a pure fresh water river but salination caused by over clearing farmland has devastated both the flora and fauna that used to depend on the river for their existence. The catchment area for the Avon River covers about 121,000 square kilometres of the state.

 

Find out more about the event by visiting the official Avon Descent website.

 

 

 

 

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