Cape Naturaliste, the northernmost point in Western Australia’s Margaret River Region, is quite close to Dunsborough and makes for a fantastic outing if you’re staying in the area.
When you’re out at the end of the Cape, you’re elevated 100 metres or so above sea-level and surrounded on 3 sides by the ocean. The coastal views are varied and spectacular.
To the west, powerful surf rolls in from the Indian Ocean and crashes across the rocks and beaches.
Along the north coast you can look down onto the rocks and see New Zealand fur seals, or gaze further out in hope of spotting a whale passing close enough to the coast.
The Cape’s eastern coastline couldn’t be more different from the surf-pummelled western side, as it’s sheltered from the wild waves and wind. The view from Bunker Point across Geographe Bay is serene and calm – but there’s still a pretty good surf break there.
Here are the things to see and do:
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and Museum
The Lighthouse, right at the very end of Cape Naturaliste Road, is the most obvious place to stop and have a look around. You have to pay a fee to climb up inside it, so depending on how interested you are in lighthouses, you may prefer to view it from the grounds then continue on your way.
But if you’re like me and find lighthouses interesting, the tour is well worth doing.
Also at the Lighthouse is a small museum that’s free to visit, and the tearooms which are a pleasant place to stop for lunch or a snack.
Cape Naturaliste Walks, Whales and Wild Flowers
The fantastic walks around the rugged coast of the Cape that are the main reason to visit Cape Naturaliste. Between September and November especially, when the wildflowers are blooming and the whales are present in Geographe Bay, these walks are some of the very best the Margaret River Region has to offer.
Some of the sights you’ll see on hikes around Cape Naturaliste:
- The Lighthouse and its cottages
- Bunker Point – the northernmost point of Bunker Bay. Wander over the rocks, watch the surfers or stop for a picnic
- Shelley Cove – a small rocky cove beneath a high limestone cliff next to Bunker Point
- Whale Watching Lookouts – high points with good whale watching views during the season
- A New Zealand Fur Seal Colony
- The very end of Cape Naturaliste
- The “Other” Pinnacles – similar limestone pillar formations to the more famous Pinnacles in the Nambung National Park, but much smaller and less impressive
- “The Other Side of the Moon” – a barren area, devoid of vegetation
- Cape Naturaliste Beach
Getting There and Exploring Around
From Dunsborough, take Cape Naturaliste Road. It ends 13km from town at the lighthouse carpark. From here, you can walk to the lighthouse and its cottages, which are home to a museum and the tearooms. On the opposite side of the carpark from the tearooms, the walking track down to Bunker Point begins.
Bunker Point (which can also be reached by car on a scenic detour via Eagle Bay Road) is another possible starting-off point for the Cape Naturaliste walking trails.
To reach the west coast and the very end of the Cape, turn left onto West Coast Road just before you reach the lighthouse. This gravel road ends at a small carpark, from which another walk trail begins. This track is the best way to get to the Cape Naturaliste Pinnacles and the seal colony.
More Things to Do on the Way Out to Cape Naturaliste
Rather than drive straight to the lighthouse, why not make a day of it and discover the dramatic coastal rocks, landmarks, walk trails and beaches on the way there?
Cape Naturaliste Beaches
The Margaret River coast between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste is renowned for being wild, high energy and dramatic, pummeled by massive powerful surf.
Most of the coastline from Cape Naturaliste south to Yallingup is backed by cliffs, but there are some beautiful wild beaches at the base of the cliffs. These can be accessed by the walking tracks, or by the 4WD road down to the Three Bears Surf Break.
Sheltered Beaches on the East Side of the Cape
North-facing Geographe Bay, just around the corner on the sheltered eastern side of Cape Naturaliste, is a tranquil contrast to the wild and untamed Cape to Cape coast.
Also Visit Cape Leeuwin, the other Margaret River Cape
The Margaret River Region is bounded by two spectacular Capes: Cape Leeuwin (B on the map below) pointing south and Cape Naturaliste (A on the map) pointing north. They’re almost like mirror images of each other.
Visiting both gives you a cool sense of completion to your Margaret River adventures.
Last Updated: 15th June, 2014.
First posted on 18th October, 2013 by Bonny.
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