This Day in History: 1973-07-21

The inaugural “rough tough” Avon Descent boat race was held with 49 competitors in power boats, one man canoes, two man canoes and rubber dinghies, with no rules, no officials, no checkpoints and very few spectators. The 2-day time trial covered a 133 km course from Northam on the strongly flowing Avon River to  South Perth on the Swan River. The 1973 race was started by 92 year old Israel (Izzy) Cohen, who had paddled down river from Northam to Perth and return in a home-made galvanized iron canoe in 1893. The first boats passed through Toodyay and Posselt’s Ford 6 hours ahead of the expected time. After Toodyay, many spectators took the wrong turning and ended up in the West Toodyay Railway Marshalling Yards. The winners were: power boat section: brothers Trevor and Danny Collings of Fremantle in 9 hrs 15 min.; single canoe section: Peter Dear and Mark Hewett of Perth in 12 hrs 46 min.; double canoe section: A.T. Griffiths and D. Hallam of Perth in 12 hrs 27 min.

Northam advertiser, 26 July 1973, p.1.
Glenda Oakley. More dates. Friends of Battye Library, 1992, p.22.
Toodyay herald, Aug. 2003, p.1.
Avon Descent website (viewed on 17 June 2021):