River Levels


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Department of Water's Website (DoW)

This is the source of this indispensable  info for paddlers. Checking the upstream graphs will indicate what can be expected to happen over the next few days.



Graph: DoW & Wooden Post  Updated 31/7/07  Print this once and keep it by your computer.



Graph: DoW & Long Pool Post Updated 31/7/07  Print this once and keep it by your computer.


Northam Weir







Karl’s Ranch (Wooroloo Brook – enters the Swan/Avon at the start of Walyunga. Drains the hills, eg., Noble Falls.) 

Yalliawirra (Brockman River - enters Avon 3km above Lookout - from Chittering Valley) 

Frenches (Mortlock River North - drains from the north - Wongan Hills, Goomalling)

O'Driscoll's Farm (Mortlock River- drains the east)

Waterhatch Bridge (Dale River- drains the eastern side of the Darling Range - enters the Avon between York and Beverley)



Current water levels* at York, Northam, Toodyay & Walyunga, Department of Water, updated several times daily during the lead up to the Avon Descent.

Go here


*Please note that ‘water level’ is being measured here, not stage level as on the pages above. ‘Stage level’ is the level on the gauges, not the actual amount of water at that point, which is the ‘water level’. The difference is minimal for paddling purposes, (once you subtract ‘10’) except perhaps at the lowest margins of paddleability. (It comes about as a result of erosion and deposition at the location of the gauges.)


Paddleability of the Avon Valley 

As indicated by the Department of Water's Walyunga Gauge 
(10.0 m = no flow)
Figures have been approximated for simplicity.

DoW Stage Level (m) Walyunga, (616011)

Wooden Post

Equivalent (m)

Paddleability of the Avon Valley*

Below 10.35

Below 0.3

Too much trouble to paddle.

10.35- 10.8

0.3 - 0.6

Paddleable, but very slow and very rocky. Okay for my plastic for short sections only as I would never like to get caught on the river after dark.

10.8- 11.15

0.6 -0.8

More rocks covered, and it's not too difficult to do a full valley trip in the short daylight hours, but will only use my fragile boat (carbon-kevlar) on a section of river I know well, eg., from Lookout downstream.

11.15 - 12.2

0.8 - 1.5

Good level; all the main rocks are covered and the stoppers are not too daunting! I like this level. The river starts to change character towards the upper limit, around 11.9m (1.3m) eg., The Washing Machine at Emu Falls becomes an easily paddleable V-chute rather than a rocky drop with a big stopper.

Above 12.2

Above 1.5

Flood level: the river has an entirely different character. Many rapids are washed out; huge standing waves and stoppers develop elsewhere (eg., upper Syd's Rapid). It's a fast trip, though not easy, as the huge boils make paddling hard work without a rudder.

*Views expressed are those of the author, a fairly conservative female paddler using either a plastic slalom or carbon-kevlar DR boat.




Paddling Sections of the Avon ValleyDistances are approximate. Public access is limited to these places, all on the Perth side of the river. 

The railway maintenance road is closed to the public, but if you lose your boat and/or your paddle(s) walk out on it. We have been told Next G mobile phone users now (2010) have coverage in most parts of the valley, otherwise try the top of the hills. 

Emergency Nos:

Walyunga Ranger - 9571 1371 

Volunteer Ranger - 0408 732 450 (from Posselt’s to Championships)

Canoeing Western Australia - 9285 8501

Posselt's Ford to the ford below Emu Falls


Easy access to the river at Posselt's but a long walk over the railway line and up the hill to the car park at Emu's. Good to know for emergency.

The ford below Emu Falls to Lookout (end of rapid)


A long walk down the hill and over the railway line. (Is it better to just paddle from Posselt's?) Then a very difficult walk up the hill at Lookout. Not recommended except in emergency.

Lookout to Walyunga, lower car park


The walk down the hill at Lookout is also difficult, but plenty of paddlers do it for this best section of the river. Easy access at Walyunga. Plan your trip to finish and leave Walyunga before 5pm as the gates are shut then - promptly.

Walyunga, top car park, to end of Bell's Rapid 


A great section to introduce new paddlers to rapids or to get used to your new boat in white water. Easy access at both ends.

Paddleability of the Toodyay Ti-treesAs indicated by the Department of Water's Toodyay Gauge 
(10.0 m = no flow)
Figures have been approximated for simplicity.

The ti-trees are very much an ever-changing paddling environment. As with all the flat, shallow, sections of the river the sand deposited changes from year to year. In the ti-trees, as well, trees fall over, logs and other debris move, the trees and bushes grow. All of these factors affect how many times you have to portage at low levels and the route you need to take at different times. Man also interferes: bulldozers were at work in the pool above Lovers’ Lane in 2009 and recently (2010) a rocky ford was installed just a few hundred metres into the start of the ti-trees, to mention a couple of examples.


Bear in mind that the Toodyay gauge is many kilometers upstream of the ti-trees, so it means the ti-tree level will be rising, falling (or the same!) by the time you’ve packed and driven up!  The Long Pool post equivalents are very approximate; it also has a severe lean, as you may have noticed!


DoW Stage Level (m) Toodyay, (615026)

Long Pool Post (m)

Paddleability of the Toodyay Ti-trees



Lowest levels of paddleability. Much portaging and scraping of boats.



No portaging for most paddlers (except maybe ‘FFWALL’ and ‘star pickets’, see below) but you still need to look for channels of deeper water in the pools.



As the water rises it becomes increasingly difficult to fit under the branches.  At the same time more routes open on the sides of the river in treed areas and they’re usually easier, if you know where you’re going.


More of the rocks are covered at places like Leatherhead Rapid and the two rapids not far below Lovers’ Lane and the junction of Jimperding Brook. 

(I call these: First one - FFWALL, “first fast water after Lovers’ Lane”  or you could call it “The Tree of Death”, due to the big log which has always blocked the main channel. Second one -  “below the star pickets”: a farmer installed a fence of star pickets at this summer crossing once and it was in place until a week before the Descent. This used to be called the Tree of Death area but the name is no longer appropriate as the tree fell over and is now a rotting hulk out of the way. It’s now more suited as a name for the first of these two rapids! (And it’s good to scare the novices!) What do you think? If interested email me your favourite names for these well-known paddler hazards to see if you come up with some good ones.) 



Big flood level, >11.5


Big flood level, >2

Flood level. The river becomes totally different with a raging torrent racing through. Most paddlers search out routes on the side of the river as there’s less dangerous current and it’s impossible to fit under branches in the centre.  Many locations are unrecognizable. As the river floods infrequently most paddlers take extra care as it is an unfamiliar river  then and the powerful current is potentially life threatening. The rapids are washed out.


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