Fascinating history

An easy 30 minute drive down the coast from Busselton or around three hours (258 km) southwest of Perth, Dunsborough is located adjacent to Dunn Bay and was named in 1830 by Governor James Stirling who was surveying the Geographe Bay on the Eagle. Stirling named the town after his former commander Captain Richard Dalling Dunn, whom Sterling sailed with on the ships Hibernia and Armide between 1810-1811. The governor named a number of places he surveyed after different naval colleagues.

When the then village first appeared on maps it was initially spelt ‘Dunsboro’, but the ‘bro’ changed to ‘borough’ changed to its current spelling when the town was formerly gazetted in 1879, two years after it was first proclaimed a town. Dunsborough continued as a small coastal village until the mid-1950's when it’s potential as a charming holiday resort was recognised by residents of Perth and Busselton.

Interestingly, while Dunsborough has been gaining in popularity with over the last few years, the Dutch have known about this part of WA for over 400 years! While in 1622, the Dutch named the southern tip of the coast Leeuwin's Land, their maps show that they did not chart the northern coastline. The area was named by the French explorer Nicholas Baudin, who sailed up the coast in 1801, rounded Cape Naturaliste and anchored in Geographe Bay. He named both locations after his two vessels, the Geographe and the Naturaliste.

Dunsborough has it all

This delightful town offers great food and wine and accommodation that range from basic cabins to absolute luxury. Its leafy streets offer cool cafes, art and craft galleries showcasing painting, jewelry, pottery, photography as well as gift and fashion shops lining main streets. Add pristine coastline, tranquil coves, amazing natural wonders such as Ngili Cave, sandy beaches just perfect for swimming, snorkeling or surfing, great fishing, beautiful national parks, nature reserves and numerous scenic trails, then you get the idea why so many return year after year.

Dunsborough is also an ideal base for exploring the many wineries of the Margaret River Wine Region with some 30 wineries and 50 vineyards within a 30 minute drive. Whether you are interested in relaxing on the beach with a good book, playing golf, photographing the superb scenery, visiting wineries, canoeing, wind surfing, exploring caves, camel rides or dining out, Dunsborough can make your holiday dreams come true.  

Sand between the toes

On the outskirts of Dunsborough are some of the best attractions on the Cape, so pack the sunscreen and towels! Meelup is one of the Cape's most ideal swimming beaches and ideal for family excursions. Located on Geographe Bay, it is protected from the powerful swells which strike the Cape's western coast. Also check out Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay which also offer beautiful beaches for picnicking, swimming, fishing and snorkelling.

If it’s surfing action you are after, then you are spoiled for choice! Yallingups may be a longboard Mecca, but you’ll also find shortboarders and the odd bodyboarder sharing the waves along with the local dolphins who often jump on a wave too. A few minutes east is the renowned Smith’s Beach, which is a reliable wave magnet and a popular shortboard haunt.

Get wrecked!

Scuba enthusiasts flock to Dunsborough as it is home to the HMAS Swan, a decommissioned River Class Frigate Destroyer Escort and now the largest accessible dive wreck in the Southern hemisphere. Built in 1967, the 120 metre long vessel was decommissioned in 1996 after serving the Australian Navy for 26 years, and laid to rest 12 months later in 30 metres of water off Meelup Beach. Ever since, she has been attracting divers from all over the world to view her in the southwest’s amazingly clear waters.

Thanks to the intensive work by the Geographe Bay Artificial Reef Society and the many volunteers who prepared the wreck, visitors can appreciate how a wreck can become an artificial reef, home and breeding ground for coral, fish and other marine life. Due to the protected nature of Geographe Bay, the site can be visited by divers almost 10 months of the year, subject to weather conditions. Tours are available for divers from novice through to experienced divers throughout the year.

A whale of a time!

Dunsborough is also a popular destination for viewing southern right, humpback and pygmy blue whales as they move along the coast from Cape to Cape between September and December. During the annual whale watching season you might see these magnificent creatures from coastal vantage points, such as the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse or from tour boats. Land-based Whale Watching Kits can be obtained from the Busselton and Dunsborough Tourist Bureaus.

Natural Wonders

A must see is the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse which was built in 1903 and is open for inspection twice daily. and Maritime Museum just 13 kilometres out of town. Don’t miss the stunning views, as you’ll catch your breath looking out over the beautiful waters of Meelup Bay, Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay. Another highlight of the area is the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park which covers nearly 10,000 hectares of dramatic coastline and is home to many native seabirds, rock parrots and exquisite fire tailed finches. The area also abounds with bandicoots, western grey kangaroos and brush tailed wallabies and fascinating flora. There are also several walking trails and the start of the Cape to Cape walk, a well signed track that takes you along 124 km of coast from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. For those wanting something a little shorter, there are a number of bush walks which start near the lighthouse and will take you around the Cape either to the 'Other Side of the Moon', an area of pristine sand dunes, or around to stunning Shelley Beach which is part of Bunkers Bay. Don’t miss the Lookout Rock near Castle Bay which offers superb views over Geographe Bay. As its name suggests, it was a favourite haunt of whalers for sighting whales moving along the coast.

Fabulous food and wicked wines

Dunsborough has a wide variety of eating out experiences for all taste buds and budgets. From beachside cafes, pubs and wine bars through to fine dining restaurants and gourmet vineyard delights.

In town, the Yallingup Coffee Company makes the best brew between the capes. Pop in there for an early morning cup of fabulous coffee and you’ll also get the surf report from the locals who will be dropping in on their way back from the beach.

It seems that every road from Dunsborough leads to a winery or three, many which offer lunch and dinner in beautiful surrounds! Amazingly, it’s been just 30 years since wine was first produced in the Margaret River Wine Region - and while it’s responsible for only one percent of Australia's wine production, it supplies a staggering 10 percent of the premium market. With over 50 vineyards and 30 wineries to choose from, you could eat and drink your way around Dunsborough for a month and still not try every variety! Each winery has its own style and ambience, offering delicious food that best suits their wines. From robust cabernets to smooth merlots, rich Semillons and chardonnays, you’ll find a food and wine match to make your mouth water.

Many wineries offer meals with spectacular views over vineyards and valleys. There are also several boutique breweries where you can enjoy some exotic amber brews.

Any time is a great time to visit Dunsborough

Dunsborough enjoys a moderate Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and cool winters. In summer, the average maximum temperature is 30°C with an average minimum temperature of 16°C, whereas winter’s average maximum temperature is 17°C with an average minimum temperature of 8°C.

Sitting at the western end of Geographe Bay, it is a beach town with a difference. 

Image above: 

- Bunker Bay, just out of Dunsborough, is one of the amazing beaches nearby


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