Margaret Morgan of Sheoaks on Freycinet accommodation in Coles Bay wrote a terrific article for Think Tasmania. It was in reply to an earlier piece by Roger Findlay about driving from Hobart to the east coast of Tasmania. Margaret was able to share additional local knowledge with us, and included a snippet about Orford. Of course, we were immediately inspired to discover Orford for ourselves.
Orford: Lovely Coastal Town in Tasmania
We couldn’t wait to visit the Tasmanian Bushland Garden near Buckland after reading the article by Margaret Morgan. Similarly, we were very keen to drive to Orford and take in the sights. True to her word, we were able to find the convict road immediately north of the Orford bridge over Prosser River. Those with an hour to spare can walk to the ruins of Paradise Probation Station and back from the car park.
Scorchers by the River was out of the question for lunch; we had our dog with us. We liked the idea of a picnic in Orford though, and we were blessed with a calm and partly sunny day to enjoy it. We chose a picnic table by Prosser River, and set out our snacks. We can confirm there’s a well-stocked IGA supermarket in Orford if you need to grab supplies.
Mercury Passage: Raspins Beach to Maria Island
Margaret suggested Raspins Beach across the road from the golf course for a picnic. Although we didn’t eat there, we did go along for a look-see anyway. The views over Mercury Passage to Maria Island were exemplary, just as predicted.
We spent quite a while absorbing the history of Orford outlined on several boards near the walkway to Raspins Beach. Besides the details of Orford’s history, we read information about Maria Island; the beach and the conservation area. Margaret was quite right in her assessment of the beach-side park as a good place for a BBQ.
The Orford Golf Club is directly opposite Raspins Beach on the Tasman Highway, the road leading from Orford to Triabunna. The golf course was once a farm owned by George and Miriam Raspin; their homestead now the clubhouse. Raspins Beach was originally known as North Beach but renamed to honour its farming neighbours, who sold the land in 1957. Visitors looking for a round of golf in Tasmania can play the course in Orford. Affiliate members will pay $20-00 green fees per adult ($10-00 per junior) for 18 holes…. at time of writing.
Golf must be quite popular in the region, with another course marked on the map just a little further north of Orford. A Google search pegged the Solis Golf Course as “an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman”. Apparently it was first touted in 2003; construction supposedly began in 2007 and was expected to take ten years to complete. However, the phrases “in limbo” and “past revival” were bandied around in online newspaper reports about the project. So who knows… we can’t confirm or deny its existence. Obviously we’ll have to venture into Louisville Point next time to see for ourselves.
Lookout for Superstars and Thumbs
So we didn’t uncover the mysteries of Louisville Point, but we did spend some time walking Spring Beach, Shelley Beach and exploring the rest of Orford. It’s a nice town, there’s no doubt about that. Another day prior to this one, we even crossed paths with Tassie boy turned footy superstar Nick Riewoldt and his St Kilda teammates in Orford. Ironically, we were en route from Hobart to a junior footy match at Triabunna. The Saints had a mid-year bye in the AFL, and obviously thought Orford was a good place to spend the weekend. Can’t argue with that.
We had one little disappointment during our latest day trip in Tasmania. We couldn’t find Thumbs Lookout. Admittedly, we had nothing to go on apart from the name and a one-line endorsement saying it provided “great views over the Tasman Sea”. We drove aimlessly around the south of Orford, but Thumbs Lookout proved to be elusive. Maybe we should have tried the Wielangta Forest Drive: a 29km gravel road through the forest, linking the east coast with the Tasman Peninsula. And here’s a random thought… maybe we should stop and ask a local for directions next time. Wouldn’t that be a bizarre and totally outlandish thing to do?
Pets at Rest Memorial Gardens, Orielton
Not only did we fail to find Thumbs Lookout, we also missed another planned stop on the way home. Lindy Cleeland (with husband Greg) owns Pets at Rest Memorial Gardens at 2964 Tasman Highway, Orielton between Buckland and Orford. Apparently Greg and Lindy have turned a bare farm paddock into a beautiful pet-friendly spot “growing green with love” and invited Think Tasmania to visit. Lindy contacted us when we published a story about dining at Patchwork Cafe in New Norfolk with our puppy…
The Memorial Gardens are always open and the public, both two-legged and four, are encouraged to drop in, visit, have a wander around and relax. While we are not yet a fully fledged tourist destination, it is our hope that the native flora and gardens will be increasingly visited by people travelling this way. We do find that many travellers stop in and eat their lunch in the grounds as there are few off-road parking spots near Sorell.
The other reason I contacted you was that I am the president of the local branch of the Country Women’s Association and we do a lot of work promoting Tasmania. Our state-wide conference is in George Town next week and a convoy of ladies are heading north, so I will try to send a guest article to you about our travels.
Despite our best intentions, we somehow missed the entrance to Pets at Rest Memorial Gardens, and arrived back in Sorell before we’d realised. Although it’s awfully painful to think of the demise of our puppy (we’d only recently adopted her from the Dogs Home of Tasmania when Lindy wrote to us) we did think it might be of interest to the many other pet-lovers in our network. And of course to travellers looking for a place to take a break between Hobart and Orford on the east coast.