Torquay is at the centre of one of the biggest population booms in the country, according to a Federal Government report.
With a population increase of more than 67 per cent between 2001 and 2013, the State of Regional Australia 2015 report found the town had experienced the fourth largest population growth of all significant urban areas across Australia.
Significant urban areas have a population exceeding 10,000 people.
Torquay gained an additional 6880 residents over the 12-year period, from 10,225 people to 17,105.
And the surge shows no sign of slowing, with projections suggesting the population will reach between 25,000 and 28,000 by 2040.
Surf Coast Shire Mayor Rose Hodge said the boom had presented challenges for the council as it fought to keep pace with increased demand for services and facilities.
“Torquay used to have a large proportion of non-permanent residents but that’s really changing,” she said.
“People have wanted to keep the rural, coastal feel, but at the same time we need infrastructure and facilities like paths and recreation areas. Keeping pace with growth can be difficult but I think we’ve done well so far, and we have to keep an eye on the future and make sure we plan well ahead.”
The most pressing current infrastructure need “by far” was a new kindergarten for Torquay North, Cr Hodge said.
The Surf Coast Shire has received a $1.6 million State Government grant for the project and has put aside $4.6 million in council funds, but Cr Hodge said federal support would be welcome.
“We’ve missed out twice on federal grants and it’s a major need for us,” she said.
“So far we’re OK, but we have to plan for the future and we can’t have 200 kids on a waiting list and families needing to go into Geelong.” Cr Hodge said Torquay’s seaside lifestyle was proving attractive to families and retirees alike.
Its increasing size was providing more opportunities to live and work in town, while improved public transport and the construction of the ring road had made commuting to Melbourne for work more feasible than ever, she said.
With Surf Coast Secondary having opened in 2014 and several primary schools on offer — with another planned for construction in Torquay North — Cr Hodge said Torquay was becoming an increasingly popular place to raise a family.
“It’s a beautiful spot to bring up children,” she said. “Everything is here now and the kids don’t have to travel for school.”