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Surf Coast Shire

About the area

Location and boundaries

Surf Coast Shire is located in south-western Victoria, between 75 and 125 kilometres from Melbourne. Surf Coast Shire is bounded by Golden Plains Shire in the north, the City of Greater Geelong in the east, Bass Strait in the south, and Colac Otway Shire in the west.

Included areas

Surf Coast Shire includes the townships and localities of Aireys Inlet, Anglesea, Bambra, Barrabool, Bellbrae, Bells Beach, Benwerrin, Big Hill, Birregurra (part), Boonah, Breamlea (part), Buckley, Connewarre (part), Deans Marsh, Eastern View, Fairhaven, Freshwater Creek, Gherang, Gnarwarre, Inverleigh (part), Jan Juc, Lorne, Modewarre, Moggs Creek, Moriac, Mount Duneed (part), Mount Moriac, Ombersley (part), Paraparap, Pennyroyal (part), Torquay, Wensleydale, Winchelsea (part), Winchelsea South and Wurdiboluc.

Land use

Surf Coast Shire is a rural, residential and resort area. The Shire encompasses a total land area of about 1,550 square kilometres, of which a large proportion is State Forest and National Park, including beaches and coastline. Much of the rural area is used for farming, including viticulture. Tourism and surfing are important industries, particularly in the southern section along the Great Ocean Road, incorporating the coastal townships of Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven, Jan Juc, Lorne and Torquay. The main town is Torquay. The next largest population centres are Jan Juc, Anglesea, Winchelsea, Lorne and Aireys Inlet.


Surf Coast Shire is served by the Princes Highway, the Surf Coast Highway and the Melbourne-Warrnambool railway line.

Settlement history

European settlement of the Shire dates from the late 1830s, although growth was minimal until the 1850s, when timber-cutters arrived and a township was established at Winchelsea. Growth took place in the 1880s and 1890s, when fishing industries and various coastal settlements were established. Expansion continued in the early 1920s and 1930s, aided by improved access via the construction of the Great Ocean Road. The most significant development occurred in the post-war period, spurred by tourism. Rapid growth took place from the 1980s. The population increased substantially during the 1990s, rising from about 15,000 in 1991 to about 19,500 in 2001. The population continued to increase substantially from 2001, rising to about 25,000 in 2011. Much of the recent growth has been in Torquay, with growth in Jan Juc during the 1990s. Population increase is expected to continue, with Torquay dominating growth.

Regional labour force

Surf Coast Shire labour force region is defined by an area in which a significant percentage of workers travelled into Surf Coast Shire to work at the 2011 Census. Details of this calculation and a list of areas included can be found in the data notes.