The twin towns of Dongara and Port Denison boast true coastal village charm, with the Irwin River creating a scenic landmark as it meanders between the two towns. Beautiful beaches provide ideal conditions for sailing, surfing, fishing, windsurfing, kite surfing and swimming.
Situated 360 kilometres north of Perth, just south of the Geraldton region, Dongara and Port Denison can be reached via the Brand Highway or the scenic Indian Ocean Drive, and offer an excellent choice of accommodation.
Stand on the Fishermen’s Lookout for sweeping ocean views and watch the waves roll in over the reef. Fish for local favourites such as tailor, silver bream, whiting and mulloway at one of the three jetty’s on the marina.
Located along Ocean Drive (opposite the Lookout) stand 15 silhouettes of ANZAC soldiers made of sheet metal, which commemorate the ANZACs and their role in World War I. The Shire of Irwin and the Dongara Retired Serviceman’s League commissioned this beautiful visual memorial to serve as a tribute to the ANZACs and to act as a reminder of their contribution to the country. The best time of day to view these sculptures is at sunset.
Don't miss a film under the stars at the Dongara Denison Drive In, the last of very few operating in Western Australia (opened in the 1960s). This drive-in screens new release movies every second Saturday night from October until May, and regularly during school holidays. Tune your car radio to the movie - gather on camp chairs or snuggle up in the car to watch the big screen stars, under the stars! The on-site kiosk offers meals and snacks.
Located among limestone cliffs and overlooking stunning turquoise, Cliff Head is a free nature-based campsite located 38 kms south of Dongara. There are three camping sections – Cliff Head North, Cliff Head South, and Cliff Head Central, being the largest of the three sites. Locations include eco-toilets, undercover area with sink, benches and tables and a communal fireplace. Campers can stay for three nights within a 28-day period at no charge. The campground and sites can be accessed by two-wheel drives and are suitable for large caravans.
From November to January, windsurfing really takes off in Dongara-Port Denison. Those in the know migrate north of Perth for the sweet Summer breeze at South Beach. Shore winds and rolling waves make this area perfect for downwinders. Take advantage of these winds and hit the water, learn to kitesurf or hire some equipment - see the Starfish Café on South Beach for details.
The Illegal Tender Rum Co is a multi-award-winning craft distillery in Dongara. In fact, it’s not just Rum that entertains visitors with goats, cows and alpacas, wildflowers during the season, and their new restaurant Common Place now open for lunch. Tours of the facility are with a personal guide taking you through the distilling process and offer tastings. They have producing two spirits which have won 10 international awards so it's an exciting time to visit Illegal Tender Rum Co's cellardoor for a tour and tasting.
Stop in at the Dongara Markets to stock up on local produce, arts and crafts. The markets are held on the first Saturday of every month from 8.30am to 12.30pm at the Dongara Town Park.
Take a stroll along the coast or cruise along South Beach in your vehicle. South Beach is ideal for surfing, body boarding, kitesurfing and stand up paddle boarding, which can be hired from the onsite cafe. Snorkel the Leander Reef, Granny’s Beach or Nuns Pool. The Marina jetties are great for fishing and crabbing, otherwise book a spot on a fishing tour. Fishing gear, kayaks, surfboards and bicycles are available for hire from Breeze Inn.
The best way of viewing Dongara’s charming historic buildings is on the Heritage Walk. Purchase a booklet from the Visitor Centre and begin your journey back in time. The 4km walk highlights 28 heritage buildings - focal points include the Royal Flour Mill built in 1894, Priory Lodge, the Old Police Station built in 1870, and Russ Cottage.
Russ Cottage provides an opportunity to appreciate the unique lifestyles of the early settlers in the 1860s. Furnished in the style of the early farming families, the cottage has been beautifully restored. Stroll around the beautifully manicured gardens or if time permits, take a guided tour of the cottage.
The Irwin District Museum in Dongara is housed in one of the oldest police stations in Western Australia. A working station until 1984, it then underwent extensive restoration to bring the station, courthouse and gaol back to its prime. It is now a museum with a range of displays reminiscent of the district's interesting history, including gaol cells, courthouse, living quarters of the resident policemen, collections covering the early settlement in the area, many antiques and heirlooms from the locals, and a display about the shipwrecks along the Irwin Coast. Take a walk through the 1870s building and picture what it would have been like to be on the other side of the law in the 1800s!
Famous for its Cray fishing industry, whilst in Dongara make sure you visit the live lobster facility at the marina, which can hold up to 35,000 live lobsters. If visiting in August or September make sure you take your camera as the wildflowers are spectacular throughout the region.
The Obelisk at Port Denison features sweeping views of the ocean. Stand on the boardwalk and watch the waves rolling over the reef and the activity at the fishing boat harbour during lobster fishing season. Visitors can also access seafood coming in on these boats; available for purchase direct at local fish market.
Drive through the magnificent wildflower country during Spring, when the area surrounding Dongara and Port Denison comes alive with colourful blooms. The town of Mingenew and its flower-filled parks are only a 30 minute drive away.
Walk the Thungara Trails in Dongara and Port Denison where six walking trails offer a different theme and point of difference. Traverse the twin towns’ most scenic locations; stroll the banks of the Irwin River, enjoy scenic views along the coast spotting native flora and fauna. Historical trails are also on offer to discover the culture of the Shire of Irwin - see the Visitor Centre for more information. For maps and more details visit the Dongara Port Denison Visitor Centre.