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Dunsborough - Cape Naturaliste Attractions and Things to Do
Heading out along Cape Naturaliste Road from Dunsborough, there are so many beautiful places to stop off at and enjoy before you reach the end of the road at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, surrounded by ocean on three sides...
Cape Naturaliste is the northernmost part of the Margaret River Region (also known as the Cape-to-Cape Region), beyond the towns of Dunsborough and Yallingup.
The area has beautiful coastal views, surf breaks, excellent walk trails, and along the sheltered eastern side of the Cape in Geographe Bay, tranquil beaches just perfect for swimming.
Much of Cape Naturaliste is protected by the Meelup Nature Reserve and Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, so there aren't many wineries or other Margaret River tourist attractions of the gourmet variety.
However, it more than makes up for this with plenty of natural bushland, the beautiful beaches in Geographe Bay and the wild untamed western coast from the end of the Cape all the way down to Yallingup. This is just as well, because the nearby town of Dunsborough is rapidly expanding, becoming less and less like a quiet rural town with each passing year.
It's nice that you can head just 5 minutes out of town and find peace and quiet in the bush or on a secluded beach.
Things to See and Do:
Heading out along Cape Naturaliste Road from Dunsborough, there are lots of beautiful places to stop off at and enjoy before you reach the end of the road at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.
The beaches in particular are absolutely gorgeous. In summer you could easily while away a whole weekend just swimming and walking these beaches.
In springtime the wildflowers are blooming in the dense green coastal scrub and peppermint woodlands. This is the perfect time of year for walking the Meelup Trail or the tracks around Cape Naturaliste. From high points at the end of Cape Naturaliste and along the cliffs on the western side of the Cape, you have a good chance of spotting whales on their annual migration each spring.
Dunsborough Attractions Map:
All the Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste attractions described on this page are marked on the map below. Click on one of the icons for more info.
Wise Winery and Eagle Bay Brewery
Whenever we're in Dunsborough we always make it a point to stop in at Wise Winery for lunch or wine tasting sometime during our stay. We mainly visit for the beautiful views, but it also has excellent wines on tasting.
The Wise Winery restaurant has floor to ceiling windows, making the most of its high vantage point. You can enjoy lunch while looking out across vineyards and bush all the way down to the sea. It has more of a casual, family atmosphere than most other Margaret River winery restaurants.
A new favourite with my friends and I is the Eagle Bay Brewery. It's similar to Wise Wines in that it has a restaurant with beautiful views across paddocks and bushland down to Geographe Bay (if you get an outside table) and plenty of lawn for kids to play. It too has good food and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It's a great place to go for lunch with a big group of friends - just don't count on getting a table straight away because it gets very busy! Either make a booking or arrive later in the afternoon around 2 or 3pm.
The landmass of the Cape protects the beaches in Geographe Bay from westerley winds and ocean swells.
Starting at Dunsborough Beach and continuing all the way along the sheltered eastern side of Cape Naturaliste are a string of picture-perfect tranquil beaches and boulder-strewn bays, which are just perfect for swimming and fishing.
Castle Bay, Dunsborough:
Find out more: Sheltered Dunsborough Beaches in Geographe Bay.
Castle Rock is a prominant landmark on the Geographe Bay coast. It stands at the end of Castle Bay, and you get to it by walking along the Castle Bay beach or the Meelup Trail. It's very easy to climb up to the top, and well worth doing, as the views are spectacular.
The first photo on the Dunsborough Beaches page shows the view from the top of Castle Rock.
The Meelup Trail
The Meelup Trail starts at the northern edge of Dunsborough Town and follows the coastline north to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. Beautiful beaches, rocks and coastal views alternate with sections through coastal scrub and peppermint woodland. In places the vegetation is dense enough to form a cool leafy tunnel over the narrow track.
Walking the trail will get you to some beautiful secluded beaches and dramatic coastal rocks that are inaccessible by road.
If you're down in Dunsborough in September or October, you simply must walk a section of the Meelup Trail. At this time of year, the vegetation is in bloom with fragrant and delicate wildflower blossoms.
Scenic Meelup Road
Detour off Cape Naturaliste Road, taking the road down to Meelup Beach through to Eagle Bay. The road meanders through the bush to Meelup, then along the coast with splendid views of Geographe Bay, like the scene in this photo:
The calm, bright Turquoise water of Geographe Bay looks too good to be true in this photo:
Safe Rock Fishing
It's quite easy to catch a feed of herring, whiting or tailor from the beaches and rocky sections of the Geographe Bay in the late afternoon. You can even catch salmon in late summer/autumn.
Unlike the wild and tempestuous coastlines elsewhere in the south west of WA, Geographe Bay is relatively safe for rock fishing because there's virtually zero chance of being swept away by a king wave. It's one of the best places for families with kids to try some rock fishing.
Fishing at Castle Point:
Bunker Point and Shelley Cove
Bunker Point is the eastern side of the very end of Cape Naturaliste, beneath the lighthouse. Just off the point is the surf break known as "The Farm", which is good in a south-westerly wind (when most other Margaret River surf breaks aren't so good!).
There's a small rocky cove on the point, called Shelley Cove, which is pretty good for snorkelling.
We often head down to Bunker Point around sunset to sit on the rocks and take in the views of the surf break and the long Bunker Bay beach.
Cape Naturaliste: Spectacular Views and Walking Trails, and a Lighthouse
The road ends at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The lighthouse is open every day between 9:00 and 4:30. To climb it, you must join one of the half-hour long guided tours that leave throughout the day (the last one's at 4:00). The tours cost $13 and a worth doing if you're fond of lighthouses or are interested in the history of the region.
A network of walking trails set off from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and Bunker Point. You can explore all around the cliffy northernmost point of the Cape. The views are absolutely spectacular. At the very end of the cape is a barren area known as "the other side of the moon", which has a miniature version of The Pinnacles (see the actual Western Australia Pinnacles) and a wild surf beach. A little way further around to the east are some rocks that are home to a large Australian sea lion colony.
The walking tracks up high on Cape Naturaliste are one of the best places in the region for land-based whale watching. If you're there during spring, watch closely for whales spouting far out to sea and have some binoculars ready. You could even be really lucky and see one passing close to the shoreline of the Cape or Bunker Bay.
The Rugged West Coast
Also setting off from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is the Cape to Cape Track, which ends 135km away at Cape Leeuwin. If you don't want to walk all that way, Cape Naturaliste to Sugarloaf Rock or Yallingup make superb walks you can easily do in a day.
A short half-day walk along this section of the track is so worth doing. The track follows a clifftop through low coastal heath and at every point along the way you can see down to the waves crashing and rolling in across reefs and rocks. The coastline immediately south of Cape Naturaliste down the west coast is absolutely spectacular.
A beach runs along the base of the cliffs between Cape Naturaliste and Sugarloaf Rock. You can get down to the beach at a few points and walk along the water's edge for a while instead of the clifftop.
Sugarloaf Rock is another well-known landmark in the Margaret River Region. It's a massive chunk of triangular pyramid-shaped granite that supposedly looks like a "sugarloaf" (I'm not exactly sure what that is...).
Watching the waves crash through the channel between the rock and the mainland is spectacular, as is viewing the rock sillhouetted in front of the setting sun.
You can get to Sugarloaf Rock by car - just turn left off Cape Naturaliste Road onto Sugarloaf Road. This road is the only coastal access for two wheel drives between Cape Naturaliste and Yallingup.