Stokes NP Accommodation
80 km west of Esperance
Stokes Inlet, in the 10,667-hectare Stokes National Park, is one of the most picturesque and interesting estuaries along Western Australia's southern coast. East of Albany, where rainfall and river flow are small, Stokes is the largest estuary and one of few that always hold water while their bars stay closed, often for years at a time.
The inlet lies in a relatively deep valley with high dunes on either side. Dense bush and shady paperbark trees grow right to the beaches along the water's edge. With an area of 14 square kilometres, Stokes Inlet is the largest of a number of estuaries around Esperance and the only one with reasonably deep water.
The Young and the Lort Rivers flow into the upper reaches of the inlet but, when the water level is low in summer, they are cut off from the lagoon by a wide river delta. The mouth of the estuary lies in the middle of Dunster Castle Bay. It is closed by a high sand bar which cuts the estuary off from the sea and only breaks every few years, and then only for a few weeks. As a result, salinity and water level in the estuary vary greatly with river flow and evaporation.