Sugarloaf Rock is a gigantic granite rock that emerges from the Indian Ocean extremely close to the mainland. The rock is situated within a designated nature reserve in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park just off Cape Naturaliste near Dunsborough. As you approach Sugarloaf Rock you will instantly see why this towering, sea-sculptured rock is one of the most photographed coastal landforms in the region. With its ocean side often battered by treacherous seas, and the rock separated from the coast by a narrow channel of wild water, this is an incredible seascape - best viewed from the elevated lookout.
Sugarloaf Rock is one of the region’s most spectacular coastal landforms and unique environments. It is no wonder that it is one of the hallmark images of Australian Landscape Photographer of the Year, Christian Fletcher and it has graced the cover of the Australian Geographic magazine. With its ever-changing colour, it is difficult to decide when it’s best to see it. Perhaps it is when the weather is stormy with crashing seas, perhaps it is when it is calm and sunny and the water is crystal clear. Perhaps the greatest sight is when the sun sets over the Indian Ocean and the colour of the rock changes every minute. If you wait long enough at sunset, you can even see the working Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse light up!
Sugarloaf Rock is a bird watcher's and nature lover’s paradise. As a nature reserve, it is a haven for nesting seabirds and is home to the geographically restricted and graceful red-tailed tropic bird which nests here from September to February each year. But that’s not the only wildlife you may see. Playful bottlenose dolphins can often be seen leaping through the surf break close by, sometimes together with the surfers. Humpback and southern right whales are often seen wallowing, breaching or just cruising by on their migration (best time July - October).
Spend a little more time and walk on the Cape to Cape Track towards the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, which is only three kilometres away. It is a spectacular walk along the cliff tops looking up to the lighthouse, with the Indian Ocean, stunning surf and beautiful bays on one side and native Australian coastal bush complete with Australian wildlife on the other side. This area provides a great example of Western Australian wildflowers which are gorgeous and plentiful in season (September – November), making for even more stunning photographs. The path itself is an easy walking path of hard limestone which then becomes a sealed path, and then an amazing boardwalk. Conveniently placed benches allow walkers to sit and gaze at the ocean, dolphins or migrating whales, or spy on fluttering wrens. (If you walk on the Cape to Cape Track coming the other way from the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse it is wheelchair and pram accessible for most of the way and offers great views of Sugarloaf Rock).
As this is a wild environment please heed the Department of Parks and Wildlife signs and guidelines.