Situated at the mouth of the Prosser River, Orford is a holiday township known for its beautiful views towards Maria Island, proximity to several lovely swimming beaches, and great river and sea fishing opportunities. The town is busiest in the summer months when the many shack owners move in for their holidays. Orford is around 80 km from Hobart (about a 1 hour drive), and a good stopping point on a trip along Tasmania’s East Coast.

The first European explorer to sight this part of the coast was Abel Tasman, in 1642. The town was named by Edward Walpole in 1831, when he was granted 1000 acres. The town was originally intended as a port, where goods could be transported to and from the convict settlement on Maria Island, but the shallow waters and sandbar at the mouth of the Prosser meant that eventually Triabunna (just up the coast) was used instead, as it has a deeper more suitable harbour. One of the most notable historic residents of Orford was Louisa Anne Meredith, who lived there from 1868-1888, and the publications of her writings and paintings give a clear insight into life as a white settler in Tasmania.

Visitors to Orford can take a great bushwalk along the old convict road beside the Prosser River to the ruins of the Paradise Probation Station. The road was originally the main land route to Hobart. During the early convict era this was considered to be such a bad track that settlers sarcastically called part of it, which followed the south side of the Prosser River, “Paradise Gorge”. Due to the difficult terrain, the track crossed the river five times, and river crossings could be dangerous. In 1844, work was commenced by convicts to improve the track, building parts of the road that can now be followed today, although the convicts were withdrawn only three years later, and the track remained hazardous until the 1860s. The ruins of the Paradise Probation Station, which seems not to have been a probation station at all but did house the convicts who worked on the road, can be found along the track.

There is also a walk along the 2km track between Shelley and Spring beaches, which takes you via a nineteenth century sandstone quarry, which provided the stone for buildings in Hobart and Melbourne.

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