Orford is a pleasant holiday town located on the Prosser River 81 km north east from Hobart and directly across the water from Maria Island. Like Triabunna, which is only 9 km north, it is an ideal destination for people wishing to stay in the area before making the trip over to Maria Island. The ferry terminal is about 6 km north of the town.
The Orford area - Spring Bay and Prosser Bay - was first explored by Europeans when the French sailor and adventurer, Nicholas Baudin, reached the area in 1802 and named it Port Montbazin. The first European settler was Major Thomas Lord who, as Commandant of Darlington Penal Settlement on Maria Island, decided to build a house which he called Okehampton. Around this time a number of whaling stations were established along the coast. These were temporary establishments but they did lead to the Municipality of Spring Bay being established in 1860.
Today the small town, which is easily accessible from Hobart, is a popular holiday destination in summer when people come to surf (the water is cold but the waves are good), fish and boat in the waters between the town and Maria Island.
Things to see
Ferry to Maria Island
The Eastcoaster Resort (http://www.eastcoaster.com.au/), located a few kilometres north of Orford, is the mainland port for the Maria Island ferry. The resort has a bar and dining facilities and there is adequate parking for the ferry, which takes about 25 minutes to make the crossing, can be booked by contacting 0419 746 668 or check out: http://www.mariaislandferry.com.au/
Old Convict Road
Easy to find on the northern side of the bridge across the Prosser River, the Old Convict Road is precisely as its name suggests - a road built by convicts. Although it was created by an enormous amount of hard manual labour it is now a pleasant walk through the bushland beside the river. No one knows exactly when the road was built although it must have been constructed some time between 1841 when a Probation Station for new convicts was established at Buckland and 1855 when the last Probation Station in the area was closed down. The walk lasts about 40 minutes. The total length of the incomplete road is 7 km but it is not all part of the walk.
Walking By the River
On the north-eastern bank of the river there is a large picnic reserve (accessed from Riverside Drive which runs off the Tasman Highway) which offers pleasant views across the river and a suitably peaceful place for a picnic.
Walk to Three Thumbs Lookout
To the south of Orford is a walk in Thumbs Forest Park (it starts at the Three Thumbs picnic area) to a lookout at the Trig Station. The walk lasts two hours and the end result is a fine vista over Mercury Passage to Maria Island.
To the south of Orford are Orford, Shelly and Spring beaches. These are popular summer holiday destinations. Between Shelly Beach and Spring Beach is the area's famous stone quarry which was in use from 1870 to 1890 and provided the hand hewn stone which was used for Melbourne's Law Courts. There is a pleasant two kilometre walking track around the cliffs between the two beaches.
Visitor Information Centre
Old Convict Rd
Orford TAS 7190
Telephone: (03) 6257 1655 or (03) 6257 1372