Western Australia is home to a race which has been going on for 40 years. The Avon Descent is a 124 km race over two days in which a variety of paddlecraft and powerboats compete. A bit of last minute rain saved the race from record low water levels, but 2006 and 2010 were also low years. In 2010 most of the powerboat competitors didn’t make it to the end because of low water levels.
I figure that if I want to do this race, I need to do it soon. Poor rainfall is more and more likely as WA gets drier (and hotter). I think that the Avon Descent is something that almost every active WA resident has considered doing, and while I’m not an experienced paddler, it is something I enjoy getting out and doing.
We drove out to Toodyay for day one, and cheered on most of the paddlers though we were too late to see the powerboats go through.
It looked like a hard slog, even though there was a little bit of water flow where we were, then the paddlers had to navigate through the remains of an old bridge, we think it was for the miniature railway that was in the area. We cheered and clapped and a lot of the competitors smiled at the dogs looking over at them.
The second day finishes at Riverside Gardens in Bayswater. Rather than contributing to the traffic issues in the general area, we decided to ride. We used a temporary fence as a convenient bike stand, and sat nearby.
We didn’t quite catch the first powerboat coming in but we did see most of them cross the line. They were covering the race with these little camera-drone helicopters. I thought it was awesome, though they did still have the loud, fuel-burning helicopters flying overhead.
The little drone helicopters were being rotated, I know they had at least 3 of them. I am not sure how much fly time they had but they did appear to swap them around quite a bit, perhaps to charge the batteries.
We saw the paddlers making their sprints for the line, ate icecream in the sun and generally had a great afternoon. It got busier as time went on but all the late arrivals missed the winners by a long way. I think a few of them were waiting for people they knew.
When I had enough of sitting in the sun, and was feeling a little sleepy, we just got on our bikes and left, no traffic hassles. It was a really nice afternoon and I loved cheering the paddlers home after a gruelling race.