Stokes National Park lies 538 kilometres southeast of Perth, in the Goldfields-Esperance region, Western Australia. It is situated in a 10,667-hectare area and is well-known for its beautiful seaside views and sandy Esperance beaches that make for great swimming spots on the southern coast.
Teeming with more than 40 varieties of birds, Stokes National Park in Esperance also has grey kangaroos (which commonly lounge around Lucky Bay) and occasional seals. Its flora mainly comprises of Eucalyptus cornuta (commonly known as yate) and paperbark trees.
The National Park has tables, barbecue facilities, and borehole toilets at the inlet making for a great day trip or family picnic. However, there’s no water or rubbish bins available, so you’d best bring your own supplies. Starting a fire or burning anything is not allowed any time of the year.
If you’re thinking of visiting the park as you travel to Esperance, here’s a handy list of everything you can experience at Stokes National Park - a quick drive west of Esperance.
Things to do at Stokes National Park
If you’re looking for things to do in Esperance, then Stokes National Park is the place to visit. You will need to come prepared as access to certain parts of the park are limited to specific types of vehicles.
1. Fishing and Snorkelling at Shoal Cape
Surf break at Shoal Cape, in Stokes National Park. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Requiring a four-wheel drive to access, Shoal Cape is located adjacent to Fanny Cove.
It has three tiny tent sites plus a bush toilet, so Shoal Cape can only accommodate a few people. Since it’s close to the beach, a Shoal Cape visit means you’ll also have access to lovely coastal scenery, especially if you go to the viewing platform. To make the most of the stunning views, schedule your visit in autumn or spring.
2. Boating, Canoeing, Fishing, and More at Stokes Inlet
Relaxing under the saltwater paperbark (Melaluca cuticularis) at Stokes Inlet, located in the Stokes National Park. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Aside from being one of the most beautiful estuaries in Western Australia, Stokes Inlet is also popular for beach fishing, camping, boating, bushwalking, and bird-watching.
Here, you can find around 29 varieties of waterbirds, including Australasian grebes, Australian pelicans, Australian shelduck, grey teal, little black cormorants, black swans, hooded plovers, little pied cormorants, white-faced herons, great egrets, pied oystercatchers, and chestnut teal.
The 14-kilometre Stokes Inlet road also has beaches, sand dunes, and rocky heathlands. Paperbark trees and bush line the water’s edge, and the water here can get rather deep.
There are two large camp kitchens with running water that’s not suitable for drinking.
There’s also a boat ramp from which you can launch a small boat or go fishing for Australian salmon, black bream, mullet, and King George whiting. Just make sure you observe normal fisheries regulations for parks.
For your pets’ safety, do not bring them to the inlet or any part of the national park as fox baits are usually distributed in the area. Tiger snakes are also known to frequent sections on the fringes of the estuary.
3. Walk or Hike Along the Stokes Heritage Walk Trail
Information panel at Stokes Inlet, located in the Stokes National Park. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Accessible via two-wheel drives, the Stoke Heritage Walk Trail is a 2.8km long (one way) hiking track that’s also wheelchair-accessible (with assistance). It connects the Stokes Inlet Day Use Area to the Benwenerup Campground.
It starts as an easy walk halfway (1.4 kilometres) through mallee heath, then climbs gradually towards a limestone ridge the rest of the way.
There are two lookouts along the way for photo ops and to catch great views over the estuary.
There are interpretive signs along the trail that talk about the local ecology and Aboriginal and European influences. Make sure to have sufficient water for hydration and be on the lookout for tiger snakes while hiking through the area.
4. Camp Out at Skippy Rock Campground
Located near excellent fishing spots and the beach, Skippy Rock Campground can only be accessed by four-wheel drives. It comprises only nine campsites, so if you plan to go there, be there early as it’s on a first-come, first-served basis.
Alternatively, book your stay at an Esperance camping site at Esperance Bay Holiday Park, closer to the town centre which has hundreds of positive reviews online.
5. Water Activities and Bird Watching at Torradup Inlet
Torradup Inlet is a well-protected small estuary and a popular site for various ocean activities and bird-watching. Through it, you can also go to Torradup beach; however, it is only accessible via four-wheel drive.
Whilst you’re in the area, be sure to also check out the Recherche Archipelago (Bay of Isles) for some additional bird-watching opportunities and water activities.
6. Camping at Fanny Cove
Fanny Cove is another of the few small Esperance camping sites located a few metres from the beach. It features stunning seaside scenery, four sites for tents or camper trailers, a toilet, and picnic tables.
Just like the other camping sites, it operates on a first-come, first-served basis. It also has some picnic tables in a sheltered day-use section adjacent to the campsite. Fanny Cove can only be accessed via four-wheel drive.
7. Camping at Benwenerup Campground
Located right on the banks of the Stokes Inlet and shaded by paperbark trees, Benwenerup Campground comprises 14 differently-sized camping sites suitable for caravans. Just like other campsites, you need to arrive early to get a spot. Benwenerup can be accessed by two-wheel drives and large vehicles.
There’s a self-registration station where you can pay for the required camping fees.
8. Water Fun at Margaret Cove
Margaret Cove is a protected cove that’s safe for swimming, diving, and snorkelling. It’s also popular for fishing and camping, and it is only accessible through four-wheel drives. Make sure to bring your camera as Margaret Cove is also teeming with beautiful bird life - making it a birdwatching enthusiasts dream.
9. Explore the Moir Homestead Ruins
Ruins of the Moir Homestead, located in Stokes National Park. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Just a short distance away from the Stokes Inlet, the Moir Homestead Ruins are a fascinating reminder of life in the 1870s homestead. The roofless ruins of Moir Homestead feature limestone walls built by Alexander and John Moir, who was granted a lease in 1873. They grazed sheep and sold sandalwood, as well as raised grain crops as fresh feed.
The ruins can only be accessed with high-clearance four-wheel drives via the Fanny Cove Track.
Come and Explore Stokes National Park
Ready to explore Stokes National Park and one of the many beaches?
Before making the trip down south in Western Australia to Stokes National Park, book in your accommodation at Esperance Bay Holiday Park for a comfortable stay and well-maintained facilities. Also, check out some local Esperance experiences on offer.
The best way to make use of your time whilst holidaying Western Australia is to play ahead - so don’t delay!
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