Orford Coast Track

Located on the east coast around an hour’s drive east of Hobart, Orford is an easy day trip destination from the capital, and also the gateway to the coast from its southern end. I, like many (I suspect) have been guilty of simply passing through Orford, or if I paused at all, it was just for fish and chips to be eaten at one of the beaches close to the highway.

Maria Island from the mouth of the Prosser River at Orford
Maria Island from the mouth of the Prosser River at Orford

Orford’s beaches are not that easy to access, either, with houses constructed along the shoreline almost to the high water mark. I was very pleasantly surprised recently to discover that there is a walking track along the entire length of the Orford foreshore, from Raspins Beach in the north, across the Prosser River and then all the way to Spring Beach in the South.

A jetty on the Prosser River at Orford
A jetty on the Prosser River at Orford

While there has clearly been a significant investment in the track and in interpretation along its length, it has not been widely publicised, and I am indebted to Denis, who wrote it up in his Hiking Southeast Tasmania blog earlier this year, making me aware of it.

While the intrepid Denis did the entire walk in one day, I split it in two, undertaking it on different trips on my way up the coast.

The first was in late April, when I parked near the shops and cafes and crossed the Prosser River and headed along a footpath from just over the bridge on the northern side which lead past houses along the riverside and then around the corner and on up to Raspins Beach.

The bridge over the Prosser River at Orford from the start of the track to Raspins Beach
The bridge over the Prosser River at Orford from the start of the track to Raspins Beach

A jetty on the Prosser River at Orford

A jetty on the Prosser River at Orford
A jetty on the Prosser River at Orford
A jetty on the Prosser River at Orford
A jetty on the Prosser River at Orford
The first glimpse of Maria Island from the Orford waterfront north of the Prosser
The first glimpse of Maria Island from the Orford waterfront north of the Prosser
Lagoon at the mouth of the Prosser River at Orford on Tasmania's east coast
Lagoon at the mouth of the Prosser River at Orford on Tasmania’s east coast
The view from the mouth of the Prosser River back to Shelley Beach on the southern side of Orford
The view from the mouth of the Prosser River back to Shelley Beach on the southern side of Orford
Maria Island from Raspins Beach, Orford
Maria Island from Raspins Beach, Orford
Dunes at the mouth of the Prosser Rive at Orford
Dunes at the mouth of the Prosser Rive at Orford

On my second visit in mid June, I parked in the same area and walked via a couple of streets to the municipal park from where the track heads south. It is possible to walk around the foreshore and beach to reach this point, but I knew from previous experience that the high tide and pine trees on the shore can mean wet feet, so opted for the footpath instead.

The mouth of a stream at Shelly Beach, Orford
The mouth of a stream at Shelly Beach, Orford

The path proceeds along the foreshore between beach and (no doubt expensive) waterfront properties. There is just one short section between East and West Shelly Beach that requires a short clamber over rocks and a section of beach, at a point where the council apparently hasn’t been able to negotiate access from land owners.

Shelly Beach, Orford
East Shelly Beach, Orford
East Shelly Beach
East Shelly Beach
There is one small section of the track at East Shelly Beach that requires a short clamber over rocks and a section of beach
There is one small section of the track at East Shelly Beach that requires a short clamber over rocks and a section of beach
Jetty at East Shelly Beach
Jetty at East Shelly Beach
Boathouse at West Shelly Beach, Orford
Boathouse at West Shelly Beach, Orford
A boathouse at West Shelly Beach, Orford
A boathouse at West Shelly Beach, Orford

Walking reasonably briskly, the northern side of the river took me around an hour and a bit return, and the southern side a little over two hours on a wonderful clear, still sunny day. There’s a bit of a steep descent down to Spring Beach from the cliff top at the southern end of the walk, but otherwise it’s pretty easy going.

A terrible winters day on Tasmania's east coast
A terrible winters day on Tasmania’s east coast
The track is easy walking and made of compacted gravel along most of its route
The track is easy walking and made of compacted gravel along most of its route
Maria Island from the track near Spring Beach
Maria Island from the track near Spring Beach
From the track above Spring Beach
From the track above Spring Beach
Maria Island
Maria Island
Aquamarine waters of the east coast, even on a winters day
Aquamarine waters of the east coast, even on a winters day

Some or all of this track makes a great reason to stop and explore this pretty seaside town.

 

Links

East Coast Tourism eastcoasttasmania.com

Hiking South East Tasmania hikinginsetasmania.blogspot.com.au

 

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