Dunsborough is a popular tourist destination for Western Australians; in 1999 it was voted the state's best tourist destination and in 2013 awarded the Top Tourism Award for Population Under 5,000. The town's location in the Margaret River Wine Region provides easy access to many wineries and breweries. The town is a favoured destination for annual school leavers in Western Australia, the other frequent choice being Rottnest Island.
The South West region of Australia, within which Dunsborough sits, is recognised as being one of the oldest continually occupied human habitats anywhere on Earth, with archaeology dating back approximately 40,000 years. Dunsborough itself shares in this history, with multiple sites of Aboriginal importance in and around the town.
Prior to European colonisation, several distinct tribes inhabited the land and utilised the waters around Dunsborough. Those living on the coast were called Wardandi (sea people), and their language recorded as Burron Wongi. These Indigenous peoples referred to Dunsborough by the name of Quedjinup, which means "Place of Women". The name Quedjinup is retained for the district immediately to the south of Dunsborough, encompassing the Dunsborough Lakes and Biddle's Common housing developments which form part of the greater Dunsborough development zone.
Important local Aboriginal Heritage sites include:
- Caves Road – Naturaliste Road Roundabout: a large area, extending some 400m east of the current roundabout, within which many artefacts including flints, crystal quartz, and blades have been discovered. The artefacts discovered at this site have been dated between 8,000 and 12,000 years old. The site is on the Permanent Register of Aboriginal sites, and is protected under the West Australian Aboriginal Heritage Act (1972).
- The Seymour Street Camping Grounds: located between what was Seymour Street (now Cape Naturaliste Road) and Naturaliste Terrace, and again on the southern side of the wet ground within the playing fields, including part of the playing field itself and where the netball courts now stand.
- Dunn Bay Road Ceremonial Ground: a reported "law ground" that was a ceremonial meeting site that brought traditional Wardandi people together.
The modern town is named after the nearby Dunn Bay, which was named after Captain Richard Dalling Dunn under whom Governor James Stirling had served in the Hibernia and the Armide in 1810–11. Land for a townsite was set aside here in the late 1830s, and there is a recorded whale fishery at "Dunsbro" in 1850. When Dunsborough first appeared on a map in 1839 it was spelt "Dunnsbro" but the extra "n" seems to have disappeared by 1850, and the spelling of "bro" was amended to "borough" when the name was gazetted in 1879.
In 1860, the Seymour family who worked for the Castle Rock Whaling Company built the Seymour Homestead. It would later be moved to Millbrook Farm in Yallingup. In the 1920s the family built Seymour's Cottages, which were among the first holiday houses in the area; they were also relocated toMillbrook Farm. A general store was opened in 1925 and the town's first bakery was established in 1930. By the 1950s, Dunsborough's population consisted of about forty families; 1957 saw the opening of the Old Dunsborough Hall and Dunsborough Primary School opened in 1963. Surfing became popular in the 1960s and wine tourism in the nearby Margaret River was emerging by the mid-1980s. The population of the town began to significantly increase from the late 1970s onwards.
Dunsborough's beaches, restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops attract tourists. The town is also near Meelup Regional Park (including Meelup Beach), Cape Naturaliste and its lighthouse (which are in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and part of the Cape to Cape Track), Ngari Capes Marine Park (containing the dive wreck of HMAS Swan, and the Margaret River Wine Region.
Caves Road and Cape Naturaliste Road are major roads in the area, linked by a roundabout. Dunsborough is serviced by Busseltons public bus service route 815 run by Swan Transit South West (TransBusselton). South West Coach Lines and Transwa coach services also run service to Dunsborough for connections to other south west towns and Perth.
Dunsborough is served by one government school, Dunsborough Primary School, and two private schools, Our Lady of the Cape Primary School and Cornerstone Christian College (a primary school campus in Quedjinup).
- Dunsborough Arts Festival and Sculpture By The Bay
- Dunsborough Bay Fun Run
- Dunsborough Lions Easter Fair
- X-Adventure Dunsborough
- Jazz By The Bay
- Sou’west Vintage Fest
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "2016 Community Profiles: Dunsborough (State Suburb)". 2016 Census of Population and Housing. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- Hanran-Smith, Genevieve. "Cape to Cape and Lower Blackwood area" (PDF). Department of Environment and Conservation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "An Aboriginal Heritage Survey For The Proposed Landscape Enhancements To Dugalup Brook, Dunsborough Foreshore And Seymour Park, Dunsborough, Western Australia" (PDF). Shire of Busselton. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Western Australian Land Information Authority. "History of country town names – D". Retrieved 8 June 2007.
- "Seymour Homestead site". Heritage Council of Western Australia. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Seymour's cottages site". Heritage Council of Western Australia. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Dunsborough". . 8 February 2004. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Dunsborough". Municipal Heritage Inventory (PDF). City of Busselton. 2013. pp. 204–207. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Our History". Dunsborough Primary School. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Things To Do In Dunsborough". Your Margaret River Region. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Local Planning Policy No. 3C: Old Dunsborough Special Character Area" (PDF). City of Busselton. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
- "Ngari Capes Marine Park Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). Department of Fisheries. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Walking Trails". Meelup Park. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
- Jurewicz, Jade (29 November 2013). "Dunsborough roundabouts officially open". Busselton-Dunsborough Mail. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Busselton Timetable" (PDF). Public Transport Authority. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Stop Locations". South West Coach Lines. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "SW1 Timetable" (PDF). Transwa. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Our Lady of the Cape | Dunsborough". Our Lady of the Cape Primary School. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- "Cornerstone Christian College". Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- Jack, J. and Robertson, R. (editors) (2001) Cape Of Contrasts/Stories of Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia Dunsborough ISBN 0-9579601-0-7