Orford is a rural locality in western Victoria, 23 km north-west of Port Fairy on the road to Hamilton.

European settlement in the area was the Dunmore pastoral run (1842). About ten years after pastoral occupation began an inn or hotel was opened near where the Hamilton road crossed the Shaw River. In 1856 a town was surveyed near the hotel and named Orford, apparently after places of that name in Lincolnshire and Suffolk, England. A store was opened in the late 1860s, Catholic and Protestant churches in the 1870s, and a local racecourse functioned from 1865 until 1912. A small school opened in 1870.

The land around Orford was not as fertile as that near Macarthur, and it attracted few settlers. A further problem was that the Dunmore property became infested with rabbits and the swampy parts were left undrained. A new owner took control and improved the property, holding it virtually intact during 1895-1914. Additional farm settlement was therefore minor, other towns grew, and the Orford village changed very little. It was described in 1903 in the Australian handbook:

Since 1911 Orford’s census populations have declined. In 1949 the school was closed, mainly because of a consolidated school opening in Port Fairy. Ten years later the hotel burnt down, and neither it nor the store was re-opened. Orford has a public hall, a recreation reserve and two churches. Its census populations have been:

census date population
1861 8
1881 147
1901 38
1921 201
1933 128
1954 186
1961 177

Further Reading

P.L. Yule, From forest, swamp and stones: a history of the Shire of Minhamite, Warrnambool, c1988