Located on either side of Cape Naturalise, are the towns of Dunsborough and Yallingup. Both have incredible natural beauty, with Dunsborough showing off crystal clear waters in Eagle Bay and Meelup beach, and Yallingup offering crashing beach breaks that lure big wave surfers year round. Since the 1950’s, the towns have been that slice of kid-friendly, summer swimming heaven. The promise of simple days spent under the melaleucas by Yallingup bay or fish and chips on the Dunsborough foreshore has seen families return time and time again across generations.
Pristine beaches, rockpools, national parks and ancient caves to explore and endangered animals to meet are no-brainers. But scratch the surface and you’ll find a thriving art scene, excellent dining and your new favourite wineries. The town’s themselves have adopted the ethos of people, produce, and place, and you’ll find a relaxed and friendly community of people serving incredibly high standard food.
Whether you’re bringing your family or best friend, this is the place to recharge and revitalise. Discover Dunsborough and Yallingup today.
1. Step back a million years
Ngilgi Cave in Yallingup was one of WA’s first tourist attractions, popular with honeymooners, and thus Caves House Hotel was built in the early 1900s. The cave is estimated to be about 1 million years old, and the crystal formations around 500,000 years old. It’s humbling to think we’re a mere blip on a mind-boggling time line. Take a semi-guided cave tour where you can explore at your own pace, or a hard hat adventure tour where you climb, crawl and commando slither through the ancient river bed, marvelling at the crystals everyone else misses.
Local Cultural Custodian Josh Whiteland plays didgeridoo in Ngilgi’s main chamber as part of his Koomal Dreaming tours. Return during the June long weekend for a Jazz by the Bay performance – the amphitheatre ceiling is covered with thousands of stalactites and has near-perfect acoustics.
2. Discover what makes the wine so incredible
Margaret River has a stellar reputation for producing fine wine, but on your next trip, learn what’s behind that. A new tour by Cape to Cape Explorer Tours and Vasse Felix explores the link between our maritime climate, the granite and limestone layers of the Naturaliste Leeuwin Ridge and the world-class chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.
The Cape to Vine tour starts with a morning walk from Smiths Beach to The Aquarium, a natural rockpool just north of Canal Rocks. Snorkel the refreshing Indian Ocean water, spy dozens of fish, and listen to stories of Gondwanaland.
3. Take an effervescent dip at Injidup Natural Spa
Check out one of Yallingup’s most Instagrammable spots, the natural spa at Injidup. Waves crash over and through a narrow gap in the granite, into a naturally occurring pool. Thousands of bubbles give you a free massage. With sensational ocean views down the channel where the spa empties back into the sea, a swim here is one of those life-affirming experiences.
If the spa itself is too busy for your liking, take a quiet walk along Injidup Bay or enjoy rock hopping along the boulders – you’ll discover all manner of beautiful nooks and crannies.
4. Cast a line with a Wadandi Cultural Custodian
Josh Whiteland is in his element when fishing barefoot on the beaches of Cape Naturaliste, and he recently added fishing tours to his already successful Koomal Dreaming and Cape Cultural Tours repertoire.
Josh is said to be able to spot a school of salmon from his car window, and it’s his ability to read the weather and the ocean that makes this tour such a unique experience.
The coastal fishing tour concentrates on the magnificent beaches and coastal bushlands in the Meelup area. “You’ll get your feet wet and have sand between your toes, while enjoying the beautiful coastline,” says Josh. You might catch salmon, herring or bream among many other local species. After fishing, Josh will prepare lunch (your fish if you catch one!) and whip up a salad of foraged greens to be enjoyed with the cold drinks. It’s a truly unique way to gain a new perspective about this well-trodden coastal stretch.
5. Spy rare native animals in a biodiversity hotspot
Smack bang in the middle of one of only 34 biodiversity hotspots, there are over 7,000 plant species in the Margaret River region, of which 70% are unique to the south west of Western Australia. Rediscover Meelup Regional Park with local experts Mick and Ryan from South West Eco Discoveries.
Depending on the season, conditions and how lucky you are, you might spy dolphins, whales in spring, phascogales, quendas, endangered woylies and western ring-tailed possums, blue wrens and black cockatoos. Mick and Ryan know all the best spots to look.
And, of course, you’ll always see kangaroos. Drive (slowly) along Sheoak Drive, Yallingup, for epic kangaroo spotting opportunities. Then grab a hot loaf of bread from the nearby Yallingup Woodfired Bakery.
6. Bay hop Dunsborough to Cape Naturaliste
Choose your adventure depending on the season.
During summer, pick any beach between Castle Rock and Bunker Bay for some seriously spectacular aquamarine hues, crystal clear water and pristine white sand. Swim, hire a SUP (stand up paddleboard) from Meelup Beach Hire or explore with a snorkel.
In autumn hike the Meelup Trails, or park at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and pick a trail – the whale watching lookout is beautiful, or the wheelchair accessible walk to Sugarloaf Rock.
Spring time means whale watching, and Point Piquet is the best place to do so. The rocky point juts out into deep water, which means even the rare blue whales – even bigger than the humpbacks – can swim past at close quarters.
7. Fly above cliffs, bays and wineries
Scenic Helicopters runs tours out of Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, as well as Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Margaret River airport. Get sky high for an awesome adrenaline experience – doors off, for an extra thrill.
Fly around Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, over Yallingup Beach, Canal Rocks, Meelup and Eagle Bay for a totally different experience to the land-bound one. You’ll see Canal Rocks’ channel, schools of salmon, kangaroos, farms and more.
8. Discover fine art in Yallingup’s Marrinup Drive precinct
Yallingup has attracted artists since the 1970s, with Rob Malcolm and John Miller leading the charge. Browse artworks by renowned local artists Douglas Kirsop, Mary-Lynne Stratton and Ian Mutch at Yallingup Galleries. You’ll find fine art, ceramics, glass, furniture crafted from local timber and superb handmade gifts.
John Miller is a gold and silversmith inspired by the region’s flora and fauna; his jewellery is stamped with tiny animals, birds, foliage or flowers. Visit John Miller Gallery and you might see him melting and pouring ingots, forging bracelets and bangles and cutting, engraving and polishing.
The Studio Gallery brings together our twin loves of food and art; a smart casual restaurant and gallery inspired by the Barcelona Pavilion celebrate the best of West Aussie creativity.
No visit to Dunsborough is complete without a trip to Christian Fletcher Gallery, whose work so many landscape photographers aspire to. Says Christian; “I feel lucky to be born in Western Australia. I’ve travelled all over Australia and I think here in WA we have the best landscapes, and it has so much to offer.”
Visit during Margaret River Region Open Studios event, 27 April to 12 May 2019, to meet 24 Yallingup and Dunsborough artists as they open their private studios for this once-a-year event. Over 100 artists from Busselton to Augusta will take part this year.
9. Brunch, lunch and booze your heart out
Goanna Gallery and Bush Café is 30 years old but keeps getting better thanks to a gallery makeover (Australian designed/made only) and a brilliant kitchen team. Rediscover their creative and totally delicious lunch menu.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Café at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is a retro delight. Furnished just as it might have been when the keeper and his family lived there, it’s surprisingly comfortable pulling up an armchair and working on a jigsaw puzzle someone else started. Seriously good toasted sandwiches filled with quality ingredients and top-notch coffee.
Cabernet and Chardonnay rule the roost in the Margaret River region, but Marq Wines is the place to discover lesser known varieties such as Gamay, Petit Manseng and Vermentino. Enjoy with a generous cheese and charcuterie platter overlooking their Yallingup vineyard.
Wild Hop is Yallingup’s newest craft brewery, located amongst gum trees on Wildwood Road. Epic mural art, a beautiful leafy view, tasty menu and adventure playground make this a winning combo.
Blink and you’d miss Commonage Coffee, Dunsborough’s newest hole-in-the-wall coffee spot. Jules makes one of the best flat whites around, and who can resist coffee on a sunlounge with plastic flamingos?
10. Explore the night scene
In a region famous for winery lunches, new bars and restaurants are breathing life into Dunsborough after dark.
Yarri is one of the hottest new spots; a collaboration between chef Aaron Carr and the team behind Snake + Herring Wine. Carr creates exquisite food foregrounding native ingredients, reminiscent of the dishes he prepared at Vasse Felix where he was head chef for 17 years. The restaurant interior is superb with handmade crockery, crafted timber tables, rare plants and a view of lush peppermint trees. Stop for a glass of wine or stay for the chef’s menu.
Blue Manna celebrates the region’s best seafood with spicy Asian flavours. Singapore-style chilli crab comes with a paper apron – it’s a wonderfully messy, hands-on experience. Alternatively, Snatch hot dogs and bao buns are a cheap and cheerful meal on the go. Packed with flavour and friendly smiles from the family owner/operators.
The Pourhouse and Elevator Bar have a new owner and a major renovation has freshened up this old favourite.
Bayside Burgers is a new venture set to open in April. Loosely inspired by American diners, they’re aiming for milkshake bar vibes with booth seating. A bar license means you can stop in for a local craft beer or wine, and there’ll be plenty of sides for snacking options.
Castle Rock BayGreat For: BBQ,Disabled Access,Fishing & Boating,Picnic Spot,Scenic Spot,Scuba Snorkelling & Diving,Sunny Day,Swimming,Walking & Hiking
Castle Rock Road, Dunsborough WA
Cape Naturaliste LighthouseCape Naturaliste Centre open 9.00am – 5.00pm. Fully-guided lighthouse tours depart every half hour from 9.30am - 4.30pm daily. Heritage Pass only (no tower entry) 9.00am – 4.30pm. Extra tours during peak holiday times. Closed Christmas Day.Great For: Open for Business,Picnic Spot,Rainy Day,Scenic Spot,Sunny Day
1267 Cape Naturaliste Road, Naturaliste, WA 6282, Australia
Goanna Bush CafeMonday: 8:30am until 4:00pm
Wednesday - Sunday: 8:30am until 4:00pmGreat For: Dine In,Open for Business,Takeaway
278 Hayes Road, DUNSBOROUGH
Wednesday - Friday: 5:45pm until 9:30pm
Saturday: 7:00am until 9:30pm
Sunday: 8:00am until 11:30am
7/16 Cyrillean Way, Dunsborough WA 6281 Australia
Blue Manna BistroMonday: Closed
Wednesday - Sunday: 4:00pm until 8:00pmGreat For: Dine In,Disabled Access,Open for Business,Takeaway
1/16 Cyrillean Way, Dunsborough
Marq WinesMonday: 10:00am until 5:00pm
Friday - Sunday: 10:00am until 5:00pm
860 Commonage Rd, Yallingup, WA, 6281
Christian Fletcher GalleryMonday to Saturday 9am to 4pm Sunday 10am to 3pm Public holidays - 9am to 3pm Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing DayGreat For: Open for Business
4, 27 Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough, 6281, WA
John Miller DesignMonday - Saturday: 10:00am until 5:00pm
Sunday: ClosedGreat For: Open for Business
51 Marrinup Drive, YALLINGUP, WA , 6280 AUSTRALIA
The Studio Gallery & BistroGallery open: Wednesday - Monday, 10 am - 4 pm Available for private gallery viewing after-hours, before 10 am or after 4 pm. Booking required. Bistro open: Lunch Thursday - Monday & Dinner Saturday evening.Great For: Dine In,Open for Business
7 Marrinup Drive, Yallingup WA 6282, Australia
Scenic HelicoptersMonday - Sunday: 6:00am until 6:00pmGreat For: Adrenalin Activities,Flights,Open for Business
Broome Airport and Margaret River Airport, WA
Aravina EstateGreat For: Child Friendly,Disabled Access,Open for Business,Outdoor Playground,Seated Tastings
61 Thornton Rd, Yallingup WA 6282, Australia
Wills DomainMonday - Sunday: 10:00am until 5:00pmGreat For: Child Friendly,Dine In,Disabled Access,Open for Business,Outdoor Playground
Abbey Farm Road and Brash Road, Yallingup, 6282
Bunker BayGreat For: Birdwatching,Child Friendly,Fishing & Boating,Free,Scenic Spot,Scuba Snorkelling & Diving,Surfing,Swimming,Whale Watching
Bunker Bay Road, Dunsborough WA
Bunkers Beach HouseMonday - Friday Lunches 11:30am - 3:30pm
Saturdays & Sundays 8:30 - 11:00am Breakfast / 12noon - 3:00pm LunchesGreat For: Dog Friendly
Farm Break Lane, Naturaliste WA 6281
Point PicquetOpen 24 HoursGreat For: Child Friendly,Free,Photography,Picnic Spot,Scenic Spot,Swimming,Walking & Hiking
Naturaliste WA 6281
South West Eco DiscoveriesMonday - Sunday: 8:00am until 7:00pmGreat For: Birdwatching,Nature & Wildlife Spotting,Open for Business,Sunny Day,Walking & Hiking,Workshops & Classes
Abbey, WA 6280
Caves House Hotel & Apartments7 days a week. Reception available 7am - 5pm.Great For: Fireplace,High Tea,Open for Business,Rainy Day,Sunny Day
18 Yallingup Beach Road, YALLINGUP WA 6282, Australia
Koomal Dreaming & Cape Cultural ToursMonday to Sunday 9-5pmGreat For: Child Friendly,Open for Business,Sunny Day,Walking & Hiking
Yallingup Caves road WA 6282 Australia
Cape to Cape Explorer ToursMonday - Sunday: 8:30am until 6:00pmGreat For: Nature & Wildlife Spotting,Open for Business,Photography,Sunny Day,Walking & Hiking
1/24 Auger Way, Margaret River, WA, 6285
Ngilgi CaveSemi-guided tours of the show cave. Ngilgi Cave Centre open 9.00am - 5.00pm. Tours depart every half hour from 9.30am - 4.00pm daily. Extra tours during peak holiday times. Closed Christmas Day.Great For: Open for Business,Rainy Day,Sunny Day
76 Yallingup Caves Road, Yallingup, Western Australia, 6282, Australia
Yallingup BeachGreat For: BBQ,Dog Friendly,Free,Outdoor Playground,Picnic Spot,Scenic Spot,Sunny Day,Surfing,Swimming
Yallingup Beach Road, Yallingup WA
Smiths BeachGreat For: Child Friendly,Dog Friendly,Free,Scenic Spot,Surfing,Swimming
Smiths Beach, Yallingup WA
Meelup BeachGreat For: BBQ,Child Friendly,Free,Picnic Spot,Scenic Spot,Stand Up Paddling & Canoeing,Sunny Day,Swimming,Walking & Hiking
Meelup Beach, Meelup Beach Road, Dunsborough WA