Last Updated on December 4, 2020 by worldoftravelswithkids
There are enough things to do in Dunsborough to keep you occupied for a whole weekend! After many trips to the entire Margaret River region, we are advocates for booking your accommodation in one area and then visiting all the things to see around that area, rather than spending loads of time in the car driving around is quite a big region.
The Wardandi people traditionally lived around modern-day Dunsborough, and referred to the area as the name of Quedjinup, which means “Place of Women”. The name Quedjinup still applies to an area south of Dunsborough. The modern town is named after the nearby Dunn Bay and was first spelled “Dunnsbro” and the spelling of “bro” was amended to “borough” when the name was gazetted in 1879. However, the name stuck and it’s still referred to as Duns-brah versus the more formal English pronunciation of Duns-boro!
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Our Top Things To Do In Dunsborough WA
In keeping with the idea that the best way to explore the different parts of the Margaret River region is to explore one district at a time. We would encourage you to check out our other information:
As a town of about 5000 people and an area along Geographe Bay to Cape Naturaliste, these are our top places to visit in Dunsborough WA.
A stunning, colorful craggy rock along the coast, Sugarloaf Rock is worth a stop. The lookout out to the huge rock is only a short walk from the carpark. It can be easily done on your way to the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. This is a spectacular place for sunset with the Sugarloaf Rock and the resident birds making for an invigorating end to a perfect day exploring the Dunsborough area. We even spotted whales from the Sugarloaf Rock lookout!
A stop at Sugarloaf Rock should be on your must-do of things to do in Dunsborough WA.
Cape Naturalise Lighthouse
This Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is the smaller of the two Margaret River region lighthouses, a little short and stumpy if you like! While the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is tall and serene, perched over the ocean, the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse is short and squat.
It’s not got the wild and woolly feel of the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin but our kids enjoyed their sheltered playground and picnic area. It is only a short walk from the historic cottages where the lighthouse keepers and their families lived. The Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse offers stunning views along the coast. There is even a guided tour of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse you can do.
If you do the guided tour you will have a chance to climb up the lighthouse, which I read was only 59 steps, and windy on top. My kids have loved visiting both the Cape Naturalise and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouses and learning more about ships and maritime history!
Bunker Bay Loop Walk
The Bunker Bay Loop Walk was suggested to us as an easy family-friendly walk that would offer amazing views across Bunker Bay. It leaves from the Cape Naturaliste Car Park and is a 3.5 km loop offering views of Bunker Bay. This is an all year round trail but particularly good in the winter (when it is not too hot) and also offering views of the whale migration starting in July. From late spring (eg, August to September) there are also lots of wildflowers. We would allow 1-2 hours to do this walk comfortably.
Next Level Monkey Business Dunsborough
This is a high ropes adventure park located in Dunsborough WA where you can climb like a monkey or soar like a bird on a zip line. They are conveniently located next to Clancy’s Fish Pub and also offer a café and play areas.
While they are advertised as being for children aged 4 up, like other ropes courses in the area, check the age and height restrictions carefully before doing this. We opted to do the nearby Forest Adventures in Busselton. At around the 5 – 8-year-old range there can be some limitations on what those age kids can do (ending in some disappointment if they are little monkeys). This is one of the best things to do in Dunsborough with kids.
Pronounced Nil-gee cave, this is the most northern of the Margaret River Caves, and it’s hard to know whether it’s located in Dunsborough or Yallingup. I’d say it is halfway between both! One of the best things about Ngilgi Cave (as opposed to other caves in the area) is that it is semi-guided which means that after a short tour you are free to go on your own.
We did this with Grandpa aged in his late 70s and while the steps caused some heavy breathing it was not too hard for him and he loved the experience. Make sure you find out what times the tours leave, so you don’t have to wait for the next one. Check here for more information on the Ngilgi Cave Tours.
The crystal clear calm waters of Meelup Beach are a popular place to go swimming and stand up paddleboarding. With a northeast-facing coastline, it is sheltered from the howling south-westerlies and as such it makes a good place for littlies to swim.
Castle Rock is a 700m walk from the nearest car park. The path is mostly flat and easy, even for kids. It may be difficult to navigate prams though, as the path is rocky. Castle rock is quite a sight to behold, strong and majestic, against a backdrop of clear blue skies.
If you are looking for things to do in Eagle Bay, and have already visited the Eagle Bay Brewing Co or Wise Wines then what about visiting Eagle Bay itself! It should be known that Eagle Bay is known as the secluded escape of Western Australia’s rich and famous and there are many opulent beachfront holiday homes there.
Simmo’s Ice Creamery & Simmo’s Mini Golf
Simmo’s Ice Creamery is famous in Dunsborough. Actually, it’s famous all across Western Australia as having mouth-wateringly creamy ice-creams. Their shop in Dunsborough was the home of the original Simmo’s. It has become a great place to spend a few hours. There are a lot of grassed areas, picnic tables, and even some ‘fairground attractions’ for small children.
For my kids, the main attraction at the Simmo’s Ice Creamery (apart from the ice cream) is the mini-golf. They have a fun course that is achievable for kids and we had a ball the day we visited.
Wineries – Dunsborough
As to be expected in a prime grape-growing region, there are several wineries near Dunsborough.
I will be honest; we didn’t get to Wise Wines on our last trip to Dunsborough! Why? Well, it’s just down the road from Eagle Bay Brewing Co and we went there first and had such a great time we stayed longer than we anticipated. Wise Wines gets great reviews for its spectacular views across Eagle Bay, superb foodie meals, and a great tasting area. Not only do they sell wines, but they also create gins and piscos! Worth checking out!
Though technically in Yallingup, another great place to stop while in the area is one of our favorites, Swings And Roundabouts Winery. Super kid-friendly, funky and fun there is a lot to love about Swings and Roundabouts.
Whale Watching In Dunsborough
The Margaret River region offers some once in a lifetime opportunities to do whale watching. Since whale hunting was made illegal in the 1970s, there are now thousands of whales making the migration from the Antarctic to warmer waters each year.
This year we were privileged to head to Augusta where Flinders Bay is the first place the whales make land. You can see both Southern Right and Humpback Whales within the same area. It is truly an amazing experience.
After giving birth in the north the Humpback whales begin their migration south. They return to Geographe Bay where they nurse their young from September through to December. This makes Dunsborough and Busselton great places to whale watch.
Places That Aren’t In Dunsborough (They Are In Yallingup)
For people not from Western Australia it is easy to get Dunsborough and Yallingup confused. After all, the two localities are very close to one another. These are all attractions which you might see listed as being “Attractions in Dunsborough”. However, we have to set the record straight and say that they are actually in Yallingup!
Canal Rocks is a series of granite rocks in the Indian Ocean just off the coast. It is situated approximately 4 kilometers south of Yallingup in the South West region of Western Australia. The Noongar name for this place is Winjee Sam.
These are another stunning multi-colored place to visit. The rocks at the “Natural Spa” have formed into a waterfall-like formation, and when the ocean waves crash over these rocks, it bubbles into the pools below – the natural spa!
Cape lavender tea rooms, Swings and Roundabouts Winery – we have covered in our information Things to do in Yallingup WA.
Accommodation Dunsborough WA
For a medium-sized town, Dunsborough accommodation is certainly very varied and there is something for everyone! It’s good to know that most Dunsborough accommodation is beachfront, and there are a lot of holiday homes and beach cottages to rent.
Best Luxury Accommodation Dunsborough
The Pullman Bunker Bay is a truly amazing place to stay, located on one of Cape Naturaliste’s pristine white beaches and nestled amongst the native Western Australian peppermints. With stunning views out over Bunker Bay and large, comfortable villas, this is without doubt one of the best luxury accommodation Dunsborough options. Stay tuned for our full review which is coming soon!
Other Region Accommodations
If Dunsborough is a stop on a longer South West WA trip and looking for other recommendations check out our post Best Family Accommodation In South West WA. It includes accommodation in Busselton WA, Yallingup, and Margaret River area accommodation recommendations and reviews.
Places To Eat In Dunsborough WA
Eagle Bay Brewing
One of the more sophisticated breweries in the Margaret River region, we love Eagle Bay Brewing Co with its stunning views out to the Ocean. The large spacious areas are modern yet cozy and the kids loved playing on the large lawns, even in the middle of winter.
Occy’s Fish Pub
There are two recommended fish pubs in Dunsborough. Occy’s is located in the middle of Dunsborough, not far from the main shopping centre. We went there early in the evening in winter and it was packed wall to wall, with a warm ambiance and lots of happy patrons. There is a reason why it is ranked as one of the top restaurants in Dunsborough.
Clancy’s Fish Pub
Our number two choice that evening was Clancy’s Fish Pub, which was the feeling of a 1970s retro pub that has been refitted as s fish pub. Dated décor has been touched up with some bright paint and a family feel. Our kids loved the fish tanks full of colorful fish and these kept them occupied until our meal came – quite quickly.
In an area of fabulous cuisine and fine food, Clancy’s Fish Pub was a disappointment. The meals felt like they came from the 1970s too, and were not plentiful. What we did enjoy, however, was that Clancy’s stocked all the beers from the local breweries, meaning we had a diverse tasting opportunity!
Dunsborough Shopping & Useful Information
With a permanent population of over 5000, Dunsborough is a good-sized town, meaning that you can get everything you need. There are also plenty of facilities catering to the visitor, including a good number of fashion boutiques, fancy eateries and coffee shops. When you walk down the street in Dunsborough you get the feeling that you are in a holiday town!
There is a reasonable playground located on the main street of Dunsborough with a spider net and some swings. Adjacent to a public toilet our kids had a good run and play one day.
In addition to this, those looking for a good walk or exercise should head to the Dunsborough foreshore where there are miles of walk trails. If you are keen, look for the Meelup Regional Park walk trail information and do something like the hike from Dunsborough to Castle Rock.
Best Time Of The Year To Visit Dunsborough
I have to admit, my best memories of Dunsborough were as a 17-year-old attending leavers parties. The area is still very popular for Western Australian leavers, which tends to occur at the end of November each year. Personally, if you can I would avoid Dunsborough during the Leavers/ Schoolies period.
Dunsborough is typically busy from late December through February, and then again at Easter. Weatherwise, the best months to visit are January through May when it’s warm. From June through to November a great reason to visit Dunsborough is for the annual whale migration, and even when it’s raining there are plenty of things to keep you occupied!
Things To do In Dunsborough When It’s Raining
We’ve visited Dunsborough during winter so feel like we are well placed to provide advice things to do in Dunsborough when it’s raining!
- Take a cave tour to Ngili Cave.
- Hunker down at the Eagle Bay Brewing Co for a long lunch (or Wise Wines).
- Go for a windswept beach walk on Bunker Bay!
Getting from Perth to Dunsborough
The best way to get from Perth to Dunsborough is to drive. It takes about 2 hours 50 minutes (allow 3 hours). Most of the drive is a dual lane freeway, meaning that you can maintain your speed.
On the return trip from Dunsborough to Perth, keep in mind the peak hours on the Kwinana Freeway heading north can be congested. Therefore it is best to avoid these hours. We recommend breaking your trip from Perth to Dunsborough with some stops, especially if traveling with kids. Take a look at our things to do on a Perth to Margaret River Road Trip.
If you are traveling from Dunsborough to Margaret River it takes about 40 minutes if you drive without stopping. However, as you are driving along with attraction-packed Caves Road, you will likely stop one or two times.
The Verdict – Best Things To Do In Dunsborough WA
Honestly, what is there NOT to love about Dunsborough! This cute town is big enough to provide you all the amenities and shopping you need, while small enough to still feel like a beachside resort. If you are planning to stay for a while there is an awesome array of Dunsborough accommodation beachfront, and many holiday home and beach cottages.
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