Tidal inlets which link a tidal basin to the sea via a constricted entrance are common on the south-east Australian coast. Closure, or even significant constriction, raises water levels but restricts tidal range within the basin, while open entrances provide regular and significant tidal exchange with the ocean. A rapid assessment procedure with minimal data requirements has been shown to be informative for monitoring and a useful component of any Decision Support System set up as part of a management structure. Such a system is presented in this paper. It is based on one permanent water level gauge inside the inlet plus the use of a simple, first-order hydrodynamic model to relate the tide range, mean water level and river flow to the inlet cross sectional area. The method is tested against data from the Snowy River Estuary in south-eastern Australia but would be suitable over a range of estuaries. In addition, the framework presented can also provide a mechanism to explore conditions over the range of expected data, thus allowing better selection of model schematization and runs in estuarine systems where the use of 2 or 3D modeling can be justified.