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What's on 

Located in the heart of the picturesque Avon Valley, Northam is home to a diverse range of tourist and heritage attractions, including hot air ballooning, cultural experiences, wildflowers, tours & trails, historic buildings, horse racing, white swans, and much, much more. Alongside a vibrant calendar of local events, Northam often also hosts larger scale external events such as a variety of national and world ballooning championships, the start of the annual Avon Descent, and the annual Northam Motor Sport Festival. 


Avon Decent

50th running of the Avon Descent
12-13 August 2023

The Avon Descent is held annually on the first Saturday and Sunday in August. The two-day course starts with a 52-kilometer 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 kilometers west of Toodyay.

Day 2 is 72 kilometers 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-kilometer, 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.

Northam Bilya River Festival

12th August 2023

The Avon Descent weekend kicks off each year on the Friday evening with the Northam Bilya River Festival. The action begins at midday when audiences can witness a steady stream of watercraft pass through Bernard Park as entrants register for the race. A themed community float parade takes place to start the evening’s festivities, followed by a blessing of the river to welcome the coming race.


 The Northam Bilya Festival is a unique way to highlight the importance of the River in cultural terms as well as celebrating the start of one of Australia’s most exciting events, and includes fun family entertainment, a side show alley, marshmallow toasting and live performances throughout the evening.

Northam Motor Sport Festival

1st and 2nd of April 2023

The Northam Motorsport Festival is a free classic car event for all ages. The main streets of Northam are transformed into a circuit with classic racing cars competing in regular time trials.The event incorporates the Mount Ommanney hill climb, SCBC Motokhana on the Saturday, and the Northam Flying 50 around the town on the Sunday. You can also freely access the car display areas, market stalls, retail, cafe and hotel outlets as well a huge show in the Sound Shell, and children's rides and activities in the family fun area. 

The Northam Motorsport Festival is a major highlight on the Shire of Northam annual calendar and is a great opportunity for all ages to enjoy the history and spirit of classic racing cars.Please note that a number of streets will be closed for the Sunday of this event, and as such, traffic through the centre of town will be disrupted. Crossings will be opened between races to allow pedestrian access and egress from Fitzgerald Street.


23rd Australian National Championships

Practice Flights: Sat/Sun 6th/7th May, 2023
Competition Flights: Mon 8th May - Sat 13th May, 2023

Following the successful delivery of the 2015 and 2017 National Ballooning Championships, the skies of Northam will again be filled with hot air balloons between 6th - 13th May 2023 for the 23rd Australian National Championships, and again between 2nd - 9th September 2023 for the 5th Women's World Hot Air Ballooning Championships.

The Shire of Northam will be delivering a number of unique ballooning themed activities during the Championships including the exciting "Elevate" Community festival on Saturday 6th May 2023, which includes the visually spectacular ‘Balloon Night Glow’. Along with ‘The History of Ballooning’ display at the Northam Visitor Centre, a Ballooning Photographic Gallery, and a Star Gazing event. Hear Aboriginal cultural stories of the night sky followed by a "Beginner's Guide to Astronomy" and a closer look through telescopes as you travel back in time.

Shire of Northam President Cr Chris Antonio said “Northam is Australia’s premier hot air ballooning destination. This exciting and prestigious event adds another reason to visit the Avon Valley region and explore beautiful Ballardong country as well as all that the town of Northam has to offer". The Shire of Northam congratulates the organising committee ‘Northam Ballooning Events’ for the outstanding work they have done to secure these events.


Competition flights (tasks) require pilots to exercise skill in maneuvering their balloons over a set course with goals, targets, scoring areas, time and distance limits. Good results in competition tasks are achieved using the variation of winds at different altitudes to fly in the direction of a goal and accurately approach the target. Balloons do not land on the target itself. Crew members aboard the balloons drop markers onto or as close to the target as they can fly. The markers are small sandbags with streamers attached. We ask you to not touch the markers or move them as this may adversely affect the score of the pilots and their competition results.

5th FAI Women's World Hot Air Ballooning Championship

5th FAI Women's World Hot Air Ballooning Championship:

Practice Flights: Sat/Sun 2nd/3rd Sept, 2023
Competition Flights: Mon 4th Sept - Sat 9th Sept, 2023