We’ve been flooded with international sport lately.

When I turned on the T.V. last weekend I had so much choice. I could ooh and aah over the stunning scenery in Scotland, home to this year’s Commonwealth Games or take a ride through the French countryside and down the Champs Elysées in Paris with the Tour de France or I could fly down the track with the Formula 1 drivers in Hungary (brilliant job there Daniel Ricciardo!), or stay in Australia and watch our AFL teams fight it out in these latter stages of the season.

For those of us here in Western Australia though we can give up the T.V. this coming weekend, get out in our own backyard and watch the exciting run down the Avon and Swan Rivers by a variety of power dinghies and paddle craft in the annual Avon Descent.

Early morning at Bells Rapids
                                            Early morning at Bells Rapids

This 2 day time trial has been running every year since 1973, it follows the course of the river from Northam to the finish line at Riverside Gardens, Bayswater and attracts competitors from all over Australia and around the world.

The Avon Descent passes through some of the most picturesque landscape on offer within a couple of hour’s drive of Perth.

On the first day the course heads down river through the farming regions of Northam and Toodyay before stopping overnight at Cobbler Pool, 30kms from Toodyay. On the second day competitors then head down through the SwanValley with its world famous vineyards and tackle the major white water sections of the course, including Emu Falls, Championship Rapids and Bells Rapids.

Bells Rapids at low water level
                                                Bells Rapids at low water level

The final 30 kilometres of the course is a flat water stretch from the valley to the finish line in Bayswater.

This year’s Avon Descent should be spectacular, for entrants and spectators alike, with water levels high after recent good rains and the weather forecast promising fine and sunny weather for the whole weekend.

As those of you who’ve followed me for a while may remember, Bells Rapids was my training ground when I was getting ready for my Everest Base Camp trek and I still take a hike around there every few weeks. There have been times when there was barely a trickle of water trying valiantly to make its way down stream but when I was there 2 weeks ago the picture was very different with the run off from the Darling Escarpment creating a turbulent and fast flowing river.

After a bit of rain
                                                       After a bit of rain

Why don’t you pack up the kids and a picnic and head off to one of the vantage points, and spend a few sunny hours this coming weekend cheering on those brave souls who undertake to challenge themselves in this once a year event.

WHERE? Avon & Swan rivers between Northam and Bayswater.

WHEN? 3rd – 4th August


Day 1 – 52 kms

Day 2 – 72 kms

BEST VIEWING SPOTS (with parking):

Day 1

  • Start line in Northam.
  • Extracts Weir.
  • Wetherall Reserve
  • Cobbler Pool (finish line day 1)

Day 2

  • Emu Falls – parking at airstrip on Quarry Rd.
  • Bells Rapids – parking at State Equestrian Centre
  • Finish line at Riverside Gardens, Bayswater

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