Northam lies at the heart of Perth's picturesque Avon Valley offering blissful relaxation with a touch of adrenalin for good measure. It's the perfect spot for a riverside picnic, whether you're admiring Western Australia's only colony of white swans or catching Western Australia's own unique sporting event - the Avon Descent.

Following the Great Eastern Highway from Perth, you can reach Northam in under an hour and a half, making it the ideal Avon Valley day trip or weekender.

If you're visiting in August, check out the start date for the Avon Descent annual sporting event. Grab yourself a spot on the river bank and watch world champions and novices from around Australia and overseas take to the water by power and paddle craft in this thrilling two-day time trial.

The grassy, tree-lined river banks are a more tranquil scene at other times of the year, with an abundance of birdlife, including Northam's famous white swans. But there are still thrills to be found on Northam's pedestrian suspension bridge - the longest of its kind in Australia - or with a hot-air balloon flight over the Avon Valley's rolling pastures.

The town also invites you to step into its past by visiting the permanent exhibition of post-war migrant history at the visitor centre or following the Northam Heritage Trail on foot or by car to explore its pioneering era. Among the highlights is Morby Cottage, the home of one of Northam's first families, standing as a tribute to the tenacity of the early settlers since it was built in 1836.

For a taste of rural country life today, book into a farm stay nearby or sample some country town charm with a stay at Northam's hotels, motels and bed and breakfast accommodation.

Be sure to browse the art and craft galleries before you leave and take a piece of the Avon Valley home with you.