jinker in Forest Park below the Slab Hut
and Tourist Information Centre, Orbost
Small and interesting town near the Snowy
Located 375 km from Melbourne and 670 km from
Sydney, Orbost is a medium-sized township on the
river flats of the Snowy Mountains. Close to the
coast it is only 45 m above sea level.
The town is a service centre for the
surrounding primary producers who raise beef and
dairy cattle, grow beans and maize, and operate
no fewer than 27 sawmills. If you stay in Orbost
for a few hours you will quickly realise its
dependence on the timber industry. Huge timber
trucks pass through the town centre on their way
to the mills.
The Orbost area was first settled by
Europeans in 1842 when Peter Imlay (one of the
famous Imlay brothers) took up grazing land
which he called the Snowy River Station. Three
years later he sold the land to Norman McLeod, a
Scot who named the area Orbost. There a number
of explanations for the word. Some sources claim
it was the name of a town on the Isle of Skye,
others claim it was the McLeod seat on the
island, while others claim it is a Gaelic word
meaning 'winged island' which was common on the
Isle of Skye, the birthplace of McLeod.
The historical sources are similarly
confusing. In their excellent book on the
Aborigines of the area, The Kurnai of Gippsland,
Phillip Pepper and Tess de Araugo describe the
area in 1851 in the following terms: 'Archibald
Macleod and his son John held a run of 24 322
acres in the fertile country of the Snowy River.
The station was named Orbost and it extended
from the Brodribb River on the east to the Snowy
River on the south and west and about fifteen
miles below the Buchan River junction to the
north.' No mention of Norman McLeod.
Certainly a township didnšt emerge until the
late 1870s. However by 1880 the Snowy River
Shipping Company was shipping produce (mainly
vegetables) from the area to Melbourne. The
arrival of the railway in 1915-16 stopped this
trade. Since then the town has grown as a major
service centre for the surrounding area.
Like many country towns, Orbost is a
one-street town. Most of the town's hotels and
businesses are located on Nicholson Street which
runs north-south through the town centre and
features a large, well-grassed median strip.
Things to see:
|The Slab Hut
and Tourist Information Centre
Tourist Information and Forest Park
The Snowy River Orbost Visitors Centre is
located in Locheil St, tel: (03) 5154 2424. It
has all the information you need regarding the
area's tour operators and accommodation (they
can execute bookings for you if you ring 1800
637 060). The centre also has free tourist drive
brochures, maps, national park information,
local arts and crafts, souvenirs, and
information relating to museums, wineries etc.
The centre is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
There are rainforest audiovisuals and a
number of rainforest walks head off from the
centre through Forest Park in Nicholson St.
There is also a Koori Sensory Trail which
focuses on local plantlife. One of the trails
leads to a slab hut relocated from the Upper
Snowy River. It has been furnished as a period
settler's home with bric-a-brac, furnishings
etc. It is open seven days a week and also sells
souvenirs. The park also contains ducks, hens, a
mill race, a mill which is attached to a crusher
and an old timber jinker - a suitable symbol of
the industry which has sustained the town.
Further information about local walks is
available from the Parks Victoria office at
171-173 Nicholson St, tel: (03) 5161 1341.
Snowy River Country Craft
Artist Bronwen Di Bari makes unusual lamps and
oil burners using pottery, gemstones, crystal
and pewter. Other works in the gallery include
functional pottery, paintings of the Snowy River
region and local woodcraft. The shop is located
at 110A Nicholson St and is open weekdays from
9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5154 2296.
The Bataluk Cultural Trail
The Bataluk Cultural Trail extends from Sale in
the east, through Stratford, Mitchell River
National Park, Bairnsdale, Metung, Lake Tyers,
Buchan and Orbost to Cape Conran in the west. It
follows the trails and trading routes of
pre-colonial days and focuses on elements of
Koorie history and culture, including Dreamtime
stories, traditional lifestyles, the Den of
Nargun, Legend Rock, Aboriginal Keeping Places,
archaeological sites such as canoe trees and
shell middens (some dating back 10 000 years),
cultural centres of the region, and aspects of
European invasion, colonial settlement and
present-day existence. At Orbost the focus is on
Moogji Aboriginal Council.