Orford is an attractive coastal hamlet situated on the east coast of Tasmania, some 73 kilometres northeast of Hobart. The village is centred around the mouth of the Prosser River, on the southern margin of a substantial coastal inlet called Prosser Bay. Beyond this bay are the waters of the Mercury Passage, with the strong relief of Maria Island providing a spectacular backdrop to the view.
The town was named by Edward Walpole, who was granted 1,000 acres (4 km²) in the area in 1831. He named his grant “Strawberry Hill”, after the London residence of his relative Horace Walpole who was the Second Earl of Orford. The town was first established as a mainland port for the convict settlement on Maria Island. However, the marine infrastructure never consisted of more than a few short jetties in shallow waters just inside the mouth of the river which still remain today. The narrow channel at the river’s mouth is flanked by a substantial sandbar, rendering the river unsuitable for larger vessels. The larger township of Triabunna approximately 6km north is the main port in the area, and is home base for the region’s fishing and timber industries, as well as the ferry service operating to and from Maria Island.
A quarry situated between Orford and Spring Beach provided sandstone for use in buildings in Hobart and Melbourne, including the Melbourne General Post Office. A quarry still operates at the nearby town of Buckland.
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 Prosser River, the coastal walk along the cliff tops between East Shelly Beach and Spring Beach, and the scenic Thumbs lookout in the nearby Wielangta State Forest, which 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) sough after species.