We found Thumbs Lookout on our second attempt. An earlier visit to Orford has us driving around the small Tasmanian town with only a vague idea about the location of the lookout, and little hope of finding it. Thankfully Margaret Morgan from Sheoaks on Freycinet shared some of her personal expertise about Coles Bay and the greater east coast of Tasmania with us, and this time… bingo!

Thumbs Lookout - State Reserve
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Three Thumbs State Reserve in southern Tasmania

Thumbs Lookout, Orford Tasmania

In our humble opinion, it’s worth the drive to visit Thumbs Lookout if you’re lucky enough to be anywhere near Orford. The views over Prosser Bay to Great Oyster Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula are magnificent. Some would argue the views are even more stunning than those afforded to visitors at the Pulpit Rock Lookout over New Norfolk. It’s all a matter of personal taste, of course!

Orford is about a one-hour drive from Hobart via Sorell and Buckland. If you’re looking for additional things to do in the area, you’ll pass by the Tasmanian Bushland Garden en route. To help you find Thumbs Lookout yourselves, here’s our three-step directions, with additional photographic prompts.

Step One: arriving in Orford from Hobart (as we were), turn right onto Charles Street from the Tasman Highway. There’s an IGA supermarket and several eateries near the intersection if you want picnic supplies. Charles Street leads away from the Prosser River bridge and morphs into Rheban Road heading to Spring Beach.

Thumbs Lookout - Prosser River
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Prosser River, Orford Tasmania

Step Two: one km from the bridge over Prosser River, take the right-hand turn into Wielangta Road. We’ve seen this called “W” Road before… I don’t know why! It’s 4kms to Thumbs Lookout from the junction.

Thumbs Lookout - Wielangta Road
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Look for Wielangta Road and a sign to Thumbs Lookout

Thumbs Lookout - Junction
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Junction of Wielangta Road with Charles Street/Rheban Road

Step Three: at the 2km mark of the journey along Wielangta Road, a signpost clearly marks the entrance to Three Thumbs State Reserve. Turning right will leave you another 2kms to wend your way uphill to the lookout.

Leave your dog at home because they’re not allowed (I know! This is not The Essential Doggy Guide, that’s for sure). Same goes for chainsaws and motorbikes. They’re not welcome either! And it should also be said, those driving a hire car may be beaten before they begin. The road is a gravel one, so check your contracts before leaving home.

Thumbs Lookout - Reserve
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Turn off Wielangta Road to Thumbs Lookout

Thumbs Lookout - Gravel Road
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A good-quality gravel road leads to Thumbs Lookout

Bushwalking The Thumbs

If you’re a bushwalking enthusiast, you can “follow the rocky ridge to the top for sweeping views over the Prosser River and Freycinet National Park“. It’s a two-hour return trek and there’s a chance you’ll spot a wedge-tailed eagle if you’re extremely lucky. We chose to drive the car all the way to Thumbs Lookout, and park right near the main attraction.

Thumbs Lookout - Think Tasmania
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Park the car right next to Thumbs Lookout

Besides wedge-tailed eagles, Three Thumbs State Reserve is apparently home to swift parrots and threatened plant species. The forest features blue gums and white peppermints with an understory of Oyster Bay pines, native grasses and heath. All this information is conveniently provided on the information boards at the site.

We were most impressed by the identification of the waterways, islands and peninsulas seen from Thumbs Lookout. Because if you are going to visit a lookout, it’s nice to know what you’re actually looking at!

Thumbs Lookout - State Reserve
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Boards provide visitors with information at the lookout

Thumbs Lookout - Three Thumbs State Reserve
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Three Thumbs State Reserve for bushwalking and birdwatching

Picnic… Always a Good Option in Tasmania

We mentioned our last visit to Orford. On that occasion, we packed a picnic and ate by the banks of the Prosser River. Another option would be to venture up to Thumbs Lookout and dine with a view in the fresh Tasmanian air. If the air’s a little too fresh, using the fire pit might be just the ticket. A shelter is also provided, but that wouldn’t protect you much from a howling gale. Pack gloves and a beanie in the picnic basket!

Thumbs Lookout - Fire
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A fire pit may come in handy on winter days

Thumbs Lookout - Shelter
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Shelter from inclement weather at Thumbs Lookout

You may like to forget the the picnic altogether, and just enjoy the stunning views. That’s always an option. There’s plenty of places in Orford to buy a hot coffee when you venture back into town. And of course, the rest of Tasmania’s east coast beckons as well… Triabunna, Swansea, Bicheno and beyond.

Also beckoning is the Tasman Peninsula. You can follow Wielangta Road through the forest and head further south. Oh, the choices are endless! Enjoy the pictures, but always remember… seeing a photo is never as good as actually visiting a place in person. We hope we’ve inspired you to add Thumbs Lookout to your list of things to do in Tasmania.

Thumbs Lookout - Views
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Climb the hill behind the shelter for a better view

Thumbs Lookout - Blue Water
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Iconic aqua blue waters of east coast Tasmania

Thumbs Lookout - Forest
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Blue gums, white peppermints, Oyster Bay pines, native grasses and heath

Thumbs Lookout - East Coast Tasmania
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Stunning views of Tasmania’s east coast from Thumbs Lookout

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Map: Thumbs Lookout, Orford Tasmania…

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