The Avon Descent

The Avon Descent is an annual white water event, held in August of every year, that involves both paddle craft  (kayaks, & surf skis) and small motor boats along the Avon and Swan Rivers in Western Australia. It is the only event in the world where both power craft and paddle craft compete and attracts amateur and professional competitors worldwide.

But the Avon Descent isn’t just for serious athletes – it’s also a great opportunity for families to enjoy a fun weekend in the great outdoors. There are plenty of vantage points along the river where you can watch the action, and many of them offer food, drinks, and other entertainment to keep you and your family occupied between races.

Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or just looking for a fun family outing, the Avon Descent is an event you won’t want to miss. So pack up your sunscreen, grab your picnic blanket, and head down to the river for a weekend of excitement and adventure.

The Avon Descent

Where Does the Avon Descent Start?

The Avon Descent covers a total distance of 124 km, starting in Northam and finishing in Bayswater. The race is divided into two sections: the upper section, which covers 55 km from Northam to Toodyay, and the lower section, which covers 69 km from Toodyay to Bayswater. The upper section is known for its challenging rapids, while the lower section is faster and more open. The event has been held annually since 1987, apart from 2021 when it was cancelled due to COVID-19.


When is the 2023 Avon Descent?

This year’s Avon Descent is held on Saturday 12th and 13th of August 2023

The Avon Descent

Where to Watch the Avon Descent?

There are several places along the route where spectators can watch the race. The best places to watch the race are usually the most accessible and have the best views of the river. They are as follows:

Northam – Katrine Bridge

Dumbarton – Extracts Weir

Toodyay – Duidgee Park

Morangup – Cobbler Pool

Brigadoon – Bells Rapids

Swan Valley – Middle Swan Bridge

Caversham – Lilac Hill Park

Ascot – Gavey Park

Bayswater – Riverside Gardens

Bells Rapids

What Family Friendly Events for the Avon Descent are Being Held this Year?

A variety of family-friendly events are being held this year to coincide with the race, including an International Food Festival, Artisan Markets, roving entertainment, carnival rides and discounted helicopter flights!

Here’s our round up to all the best events happening to celebrate the 2023 Avon Descent


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, spectator’s 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.   The Avon Descent Festival is proudly presented by the City of Swan and Perth Airport, and supported by Lotterywest and VCMPerth Events. 

More information


City of Belmont Avon Descent

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


 The Avon Descent 2023 promises to be an exciting event that the whole family can enjoy. With a variety of activities available for all ages, it’s an excellent opportunity to get out and experience the beauty of Western Australia.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or looking for a fun day out with the family, The Avon Descent 2023 has something for everyone. From the thrilling river race to the live entertainment and delicious food stalls, there’s never a dull moment.


For more information about the Avon Descent, visit

Find more family-friendly events happening around Perth

About Jennie McNichol

After spending 11 years in London working in the television industry for the BBC, Jennie McNichol made the move to Perth in 2010. As the Co-Founder and Editor of Buggybuddys, she has been able to use her experience and passion for helping families to create a trusted online resource for parents across Perth.
Jennie is the proud mother of two daughters, aged 14 & 12 and is a big advocate of the family-friendly lifestyle that Perth has to offer.

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