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Cape Naturaliste Track

Cape Naturaliste Track

Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park

Directions - Located near Dunsborough, from town take Cape Naturaliste Road north for 14 kilometres until you reach the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse car park. The trail head is located on the western side of the car park, to the left of the entry to the lighthouse.  

The Hike - The Cape Naturaliste Track was the first trail from this area that I put on the website way back in 2016, when things were a little different and I didn't take nearly as many photos as I do now. Walked as something fun to do one morning during a family holiday, it was always a trail I had been meaning to return to and re-shoot, preferably in mid spring. Fast forward to 2022 and with a compacted four day road trip planned, I decided to start with the Cape Naturaliste Track as part of a four trail day around the Dunsborough area. 

With a sunny day forecast, I got an early start from my overnight stop in Funbury and just over an hour later, I was at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse ready for a full day of hiking fun. I chose this trail first as theoretically the views looking over the ocean to the west would be best in the morning light, plus logistically it made sense to do the Cape Nat trails first. The northern tip of the Capes region is one of the best places to observe migrating whales and with it being peak season, I was hopeful of spotting one close to shore. As I was getting my gear ready, I noticed a nearby father and son getting their much bigger packs sorted and it brought back memories of starting the Cape to Cape Track back in 2021, and I was slightly envious that they were at the beginning of what I'm sure was an amazing adventure. With my pack ready and sunscreen on, I headed over to the trail head that is located to the left of the lighthouse entrance.


There are a few trail options in the area ranging from this trail, the Bunker Bay Loop, the Access For More Trail and the Cape to Cape Track, along with shorter access walks to the various whale lookouts. Being in peak wildflower season, I was excited to see what I could find, so set off along the paved path towards the first turn-off. At an obvious wooden sign, you take a right to head towards the Whale Lookout as the views over the Indian Ocean start to open up. Early wildflower finds included Basket Bush, False Boronia and Dampier's Rose, along with a Green Beetle loving life on a Wattle. The first time you see the ocean on this trail is a great opportunity to stop and take it all in. The ocean views will be with you for the majority of the hike but gazing out over the open water never ceases to be boring to me. Continuing along the limestone path, the New Holland Honeyeaters were busy flitting between branches and the wildflower finds continued with Coastal Honeymyrtle, Shining Fan-flower and Cutleaf Hibbertia. 

Following the Cape Naturaliste Track route is a little tricky now the signage is getting UV damaged and the trail markers sometimes aren't as frequent as they should be but in some places it is still alright. In simple terms, at the first intersection after joining the limestone path, you head left, then take the next left about 150 metres down the trail. Some of the white signs are still readable but it's always wise to track your position using an app that records your walk so you can see where you are. After taking those left turns, you start a steady descent through the coastal scrub where there was a bevy of wildflowers on display including Wild Violet, White Marianthus, Cockies Tongue and Coastal Banjine. Another cool addition to this hike were the dozens of dragonflies that were buzzing around every time I walked through a new section and disturbed them. Thanks to some iNaturalist magic, I found out they are called Tau Emeralds.


With the views over the ocean getting more impressive, you can see right down the coastline to the south, off to Sugarloaf Rock and the headland south of Smiths Beach. Closer to shore, the turquoise water combined with the crashing waves was a pretty idyllic sight that I loved photographing. You reach a junction where the loop section heads to the right and another trail connects up with a couple of car parks. This trail also leads down to the beach you can see below so I followed it, knowing from my previous visit that the beach was a great place to wander around. Last time I came in via the Other Side of the Moon but figured this was the less damaging option as surfers already use this trail to head through the dunes and access the beach. It wasn't long before I was on the beach and it took me back to the first time I was here and how enjoyable I found that experience. With all the various rock formations, crashing waves, great views, pools of water and washed up debris, this secluded little beach is heaven for those who like the coast.