Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Old Convict Road, Orford

Easy to find on the northern side of the bridge across the Prosser River, the Old Convict Road is precisely as its name suggests - a road built by convicts. Although it was created by an enormous amount of hard manual labour, it is now a pleasant walk through the bushland beside the river. No one knows exactly when the road was built although it must have been constructed some time between 1841 when a Probation Station for new convicts was established at Buckland and 1855 when the last Probation Station in the area was closed down. The road was probably also used to service the penal settlement of Maria Island. The Road is constructed out of the prolific bluestone rubble and boulders. The first 100 metres from the Orford Bridge is a road for vehicle traffic and the main Old Convict Road continues on from here. This section of the road is in a remarkably well preserved state. Very easy to find.

This main section of the convict built road provides a delightful and authentic historical walk from Orford along the northern riverbank of the Prosser River and takes you to the ruins of the Paradise Probation Station.

Terraced into the side of the river valley the convicts must have had a torrid time hand laying the bluestone rock embankments supporting the road. As in other parts of this region, there is evidence of middens left by the original Tasmanians long before the convicts arrived. These are largely intact.

The Road has been terraced (cut and filled) into the steep banks of the river which makes this section of the road clearly identifiable. However there has been a dam built on the Prosser River and a water supply taken from this via the Road to the town of Orford and beyond. This ten inch cast iron supply pipeline runs along the top side of parts of the Road. The pipeline is exposed at small sections but it has been mostly concealed by substantial placement of stone over it. There are some remains of an older smaller pipeline of which little information is known.

It is well worth a pleasant stroll along the road up to the probation station ruins (probably where the convicts who built the road were housed). The whole walk took me approx 1.5 hours round trip which included extended time exploring and photographing the ruins. It’s a pretty easy walk in lovely bush surrounds with the river winding in and out along side you as you walk in the footsteps of the convicts.
Love it!!!

Information Source: Australian Heritage Database