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Avon River Festival

August (Annually)

The Shire of Northam hosts the annual Avon River Festival from 5pm on the Friday directly before the start of the Avon Descent Race on the first Saturday in August.  The Festival welcomes the Avon Descent to Northam, the biggest event on the regional calendar attracting more than 600 competitors with families and support crews.

Well suited to families, the Avon River Festival has attractions and activities for all age groups.  There are live performances from local musicians, a street parade with floats lovingly hand-made by local community groups and organisations, and rides and games for the family. A Side show alley also entertains the young at heart with a host of showbags and games.  There are market stalls and food vendors offering local produce, arts and crafts.

The popular firework finale on the River closes the Festival and sets the scene for the start of the Avon Descent the following day.

The Festival opens in Minson Avenue at 5.00pm, with the Street Parade in Fitzgerald Street at 6pm.  The firework finale commences at 8.30pm. Minson Avenue is closed from 1pm until completion of the event, and Fitzgerald Street is closed for the street parade only. Please note that this is a pet and alcohol free event.

Road closures are in place for this event. For full road closure details, head to

For more information on what you can see and do around town, contact the Visit Northam Visitor Centre on 9622 2100 or [email protected]

Avon Descent

Avon Descent

August (Annually)

For more information, visit the Avon Descent Website

The Avon Descent is held annually on the second Saturday and Sunday in August. The two day course starts with a 52 kilometre stretch beginning in the Shire of Northam, just outside the Northam Visitor Centre at the famous Avon Descent Start Tower. 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. 

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. 

Road closures are in place for this event. For full road closure details, head to