Thrills and spills expected as heavy rain swells river
Fast-flowing floodwaters submerge Toodyay’s Cobbler Pool campsite where hundreds of competitors, support crew and spectators were due to sleep overnight on Saturday August 14 for this year’s annual Avon Descent river race from Northam to Perth. Organisers say they have contingency plans to shift campers to higher ground and are expecting record race times after weeks of heavy rain.
By Daniel Yong
HUNDREDS of competitors have entered this month’s Avon Descent river race through Toodyay as recent heavy rains and rising water levels promise an action-packed weekend on August 14-15.
The event includes an annual International Food Fair and Family Fun Day in Toodyay on Saturday August 14.
Rising water levels flooded the Cobbler Pool overnight camp site at the start of this month and threatened to submerge local bridges.
Toodyay officially recorded 154.2mm of rain in July (see Page 29) but some nearby rural properties reported totals of more than 300mm, making it one of the wettest months in decades.Read more
Avon Descent Association CEO Sean Dunstan said there would be some changes at the Cobbler Pool overnight camp but it was “nothing organisers haven’t had to plan for in the past”.
“We’ve had to adjust our set ups here and there but we’re always planning for the worst-case scenario,” he said
“There’s a very good possibility that we’ll set some new records this year.”
Spectators can also expect more action with a new mini jet boat category this year.
Mr Dunstan said bans on international and interstate travel due to Covid-19 restrictions meant more West Australians would be taking part in this year’s event.
Two kayak entrants – Jacky Phillips and Stephen Bird – competed in the London 2012 Olympics.
The race is scheduled to start in Northam at 8am on Saturday August 14 with food trucks and coffee vans supplying breakfast for spectators from 7am.
Toodyay Lions Football Club will manage spectator facilities at Extracts Weir near Toodyay, where the first power boats are expected to arrive at about 8.20am, depending on whether the start is delayed by heavy early morning mist in the valley.
Kayak competitors are expected to start arriving at the fast-flowing weir mid-morning.
Contestants will pass under Newcastle Bridge before arriving at the Cobbler Pool overnight campsite, which is being managed by the West Gidgegannup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade.
The Shire of Toodyay will host an international food fair and family fun day on both sides of Newcastle Bridge from 10am to 3pm on Saturday August 14.
Shire of Toodyay Reserve Management Officer Greg Warburton said spectators could expect the river to be flowing fast which augured well for this year’s race.