Situated on a substantial coastal inlet called Prosser Bay, Orford is an attractive coastal hamlet. The village is centred around the mouth of the Prosser River. Beyond Prosser Bay are the waters of the Mercury Passage, with the strong relief of Maria Island providing a spectacular backdrop to the view.
Where Is it?: Orford is 78 km north east of Hobart, on the Tasman Highway.
Orford has several clean, picturesque beaches - including Raspins, Millingons, Spring and Rheban - with a popular campsite at Raspins Beach. Nearby is the well-regarded 9-hole Orford Golf Course and the Darlington Vineyard.
There are several walks, including the Convict Trail along the remains of the original convict road built between 1841 and 1855 by the Prosser River, the coastal walk along the cliff tops between East Shelly Beach and Spring Beach. The views across Mercury Passage to Maria Island look as if it has been pulled from a picture postcard. The scenic Thumbs lookout in the nearby Wielangta Forest offers a spectacular view of the region.
Prosser Bay and the Mercury Passage provide excellent fishing, with flathead, trevally, trumpeter, abalone and southern rock lobster (crayfish) sought-after species.
The ship the Troy D was scuttled in 2007 in the Mercury Passage approximately 1 km off Maria Island, to create an artificial reef and dive site which has proved popular with scuba divers.
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Offshore from Triabunna across Mercury Passage is Maria Island, an uninhabited, serene place where the visitor feels they have left civilization behind and stepped into another world. The main attraction is the beautiful scenery and wildlife, however the remains of the abandoned convict settlement of Darlington adds to its uniqueness and sense of isolation. A day trip is just enough time to get the feel of the place, but to explore it in detail you would need much more. Passenger ferries to Maria Island leave daily from Triabunna.
About halfway between Copping and Orford in the heart of the Wielangta Forest, the Sandpit Forest Reserve picnic area provides a great stopping point for a picnic in one of the two stone shelters once used by Aborigines. Wielangta walk is a 2 hour return walk that follows the route of an abandoned tramway to the remnants of the old timber milling township of Wielangta. The mill operated from 1911 to 1924, with cut timber carted on trams down the coast to Rheban where it was loaded onto a jetty and shipped off. There is another shorter walk through the rainforest (20 minutes return) at Robertson's bridge.
The Forest Mosaic Platform explains the various forest types along the drive and the ways in which wet and dry schlerophyll forests are managed and various parts are reserved, while other areas are grown for future quality timber products. At the Northern end of the drive from Orford a narrow road leads to a picnic area with panoramic views over Maria Island and the East Coast. The bushwalk to the Three Thumbs starts just downhill from the lookout.
View from Sandpit Point
A day trip to Orford from Hobart with a difference - travel east from Hobart but instead of turning south at Copping towards Forestier and Tasman Peninsula, head north and follow the Wielangta Forest Drive to Orford. It is an unsealed but well maintained Forestry Tasmania trail through Three Thumbs State Reserve and Cape Bernier Nature Reserve. Return to Hobart from Orford via Tasman Highway. Distance: 164 km
Buckland is a quiet rural village noted for the beauty and historic importance of its St John the Baptist Anglican Church. Today Buckland's historic features include the Buckland Hotel, which was licensed in 1845 (although extensively modified the original bar still exists) and St John the Baptist Church (turn at Sally Peak Road).
In the 1830s, the track up the east coast of Tasmania on the south side of the Prosser River was one of the worst in the colony, and was sarcastically referred to as Paradise Gorge. It was so bad that in 1830 Governor Arthur got lost for three days. Crossing the mouth of the Prosser River was extremely dangerous at high tide. Work was started by convicts on 'Paradise Gorge' in 1844 on the north side on what became known as the Old Coach Road or Convict Track. The convicts used picks and shovels, carts and wheelbarrows and gunpower for the more difficult work. The convicts were withdrawn in 1847. A punt started operating to get people across the river at Orford. When the Meredith Bridge was opened, a new road was built on the south side of the Prosser River from the Orford Bridge to Buckland.
Paradise Probation Station was established around 1844 and was used to house convicts who were building the road on the north bank of the Prosser River. The ruins of the building remain. The buildings at Paradise were made from the boards, shingles and nails of the dismantled Buckland Probation Station. The station was abandoned by 1847 and the buildings were destroyed by fire in 1856. Today, there a very pleasant walk along the old convict road up the northern bank of the Prosser River. Follow the main track, cross the stony bed of a small creek and before you get to the dam. Go up the bank to the right of the old road to the relics of the old convict built station. Location: Tasman Highway, Orford.
Beginning immediately after crossing the bridge at Orford, the Old Convict Road trail follows the northern side of the Prosser River for 1km. This flat and easily accessible trail highlighs rugged examples of Convict manual labour and structural ingenuity. Build between 1841 and 1855, this stretch of terraced road was used to service the Probation Station in Buckland now in ruins at the end of the track. 2 km.
Located just 7km outside of Orford, the Three Thumbs Track is a interesting short hike providing fantastic views of Orford, Spring Bay and Maria Island. The 2 hour, 4km loop walk takes you through dry eucalyptus forest and small sections of temperate rain forest.