The Prosser River pours down to the east coast of Tasmania. At its roaring mouth, you’ll find the seaside town of Orford. The river running into the ocean creates a beautiful inlet known as Prosser Bay, and beyond Prosser Bay, you’ll find the Mercury Passage. All of these waterways make Orford the perfect summertime holiday destination.
Orford sits on the east coast of Tasmania just 73 kilometers northeast Hobart. It’s a quick and easy drive to this beautiful and quiet holiday town.
Beautiful Water and the Maria Island National Park
There is plenty of swimming, surfing and seaside lounging to be done at Orford. With the deep blue waters of the sea, the running waters of the river and the protected waters of the bay, you’ll have your choice of aquatic activities. The diving in these crystal clear waters is some of the best in the world, and you’ll have incredible views of the Maria Island National Park sitting off in the distance. And many of the beaches and coastal attractions are connected by stunning nature walks.
Orford is a classic “shack” town. Shacks are Tassie for a second house or holiday home. And being so close to Hobart, you’ll find plenty of families from Tasmania's biggest city who have moved into their shacks for the summer. This little town is sleepy in the off-season, but it roars to life when the weather turns hot. Image thanks to: Pete Harmsen (Spring Beach)
This town comes to life in the summer and offers up plenty of accommodations, eateries and activities to keep hoards of holidaymakers happy. That’s why this small town of less than 1,000 permanent residents is the perfect base camp for exploring the nearby Maria Island National Park. Journeys out to the islands take nature lovers and their families out for the day while a hot meal and warm bed wait for them back in town.
Just north of the river, you’ll find a protected piece of land that is one of the world’s best places to watch birds. A sandpit sits in the middle of the four-hectare Rapsins Beach Conservation Area and it has been labelled an “Important Bird Area" by Birdlife International. You might be lucky enough to visit when Fairy Terns, Red-capped Plovers and Hooded Plovers are breeding.
You’ll find plenty of picturesque swimming beaches in Orford. The Raspins, Millingons, Spring and Rheban Beaches are clean, well kept, soft, long and beautiful. Many of the beaches are connected by beautiful nature walks that are no more than 2 kilometres long.
You’ll meet many Hobart holidaymakers who have moved into shacks in town during summer. After all, Tasmania’s capital is only a short drive away. But the town is full of comfortable accommodations for all types of visitors.
Orford is the closest coastal town with access to the Maria Island National Park. The 25-minute ferry departs from a luxurious hotel with a bar and dining area. You’ll meet many who have trekked to Orford just for the opportunity to experience this wonder of nature.
Orford has many nature walks in and around town, but most of them are leisurely. Many come to this small coastal town just to get away from the hectic pace of modern life. You’ll meet people looking to slow down as they carry a good book down to the beach on one of the nature trails Orford has to offer. And, of course, there is spectacular bird watching just north of the river. Bring your binoculars and geek out with bird lovers at the Raspins Beach Conservation Area. You just might start collecting bird sightings and joining the culture. Image: Bird Watching
You'll find hotels, resorts, caravan parks, holiday houses and cottages for hire throughout Orford. You'll find a wide variety of accommodations on the northern and southern side of the river accommodating all types of budgets. You can choose lavish digs or grab a bed in a hostel dorm. It's up to you.
Head down to the East Coaster Resort for a drink and a nibble. The Maria Island Ferry departs from this seaside hotel and it has a bar and restaurant. It’s a beautiful place to watch the water. It’s also perfect for people watching. See the excitement and contentment on the faces of the national park visitors.
The Old Convict Road was built with convict labour back in the 1800's. This road took many man-hours of hard labour, but it is now an inviting nature walk. It takes you through bushland beside the Prossner River and the walk lasts about 40 minutes. Have a riverside picnic. On both sides of the river, you’ll find long stretches of picnic reserves. Feel free to spread a blanket and enjoy some nibbles with your loved ones while you gaze upon the calming waters. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Glenn Gibson (Walk around the river)
All the focus is on the coast at Orford. The inland areas are covered in poor soil and dry trees. The weather is absolutely fantastic in Orford. The summers are warm without being too hot and the winters are mild. And it rains much less here than many other parts of Tasmania. However, rain can strike at any time of year.
The town was founded and named back in 1831 by Edward Walpole. He named his 1000-acre grant “Strawberry Hill” and watched as the town became a port for a convict station on Maria Island. The short jetties built for this purpose still stand.
A nearby quarry opened up in the 1800s. Stone from the quarry was used to build nearby Hobart and much of Melbourne on the Australian Mainland. The historic Melbourne General Post Office with built with stones from this area. Nearby Buckland still operates a quarry while Orford’s economy has shifted to tourism.
There’s a beautiful 2-kilometres cliff-side walk connecting East Shelly and Spring Beach. The ocean views are fantastic and you’ll be able to see Orford’s historic sandstone quarry from up above.
Check out the ruins of a probation station at the end of the Old Convict Road walk.
Hire an adventure guide to take you out to the man-made reef in Mercury Passage. Created with a sunken ship, this dive site is one kilometre from Maria Island. The crystal clear waters of the passage are perfect for underwater exploration. Image thanks to: Aydan Marrier (Sunken Ship)