Torquay is a township facing Bass Strait, 21 km. south of Geelong (i.e. across the Bellarine Peninsula from Geelong). It is bordered on the west by Spring Creek and its coastal features include Point Danger and Zeally Bay.

Robert Zeally took up land in the vicinity in 1851. Spring Creek became a popular place for picnics and fishing, and one of the excursionists, Henry Rudd, persuaded the Lands Department to survey the area for the sale of subdivided lots in 1886.

The locality was variously known as Spring Creek, Puebla and Torquay, as it seems that Zeally and another early family, the Folletts, came from Torquay, Devon. James Follett farmed in the area since 1876, and opened a boarding house and a coffee palace soon after the land sale.

The year before, the Torquay Improvement Association had been formed, with the aim of securing a Government land reservation for camping and recreation. In 1900 a primary school was opened in the newly-built Presbyterian church, moving to the recreation hall in 1901. A permanent school building was opened in 1910. A bowling green, tennis courts and a golf course were opened by the 1920s, and sea-bathing and a life-saving club were active by then.

Torquay is 8 km. north-east of Bells Beach, and the coast line in this region has numerous surfing locations. The Bells Beach Easter Surfing Festival was first held in 1961, and Torquay has become the commercial centre for surfing along the coastline. The manufacture of wetsuits, surfboards and related accessories is Torquay's main source of employment. As some of the best surfing conditions occur in Spring and Autumn, Torquay's economy is not solely reliant on Summer holiday-makers.

Torquay has become a dormitory suburb to Geelong, and some residents are employed beyond Geelong as far as Melbourne. The township has a substantial residential area, three camping and caravan parks, a shopping area, Surfworld Plaza on the road between Geelong and Torquay, and extensive recreational reserves along the foreshore, Spring Creek and Deep Creek. When the road crosses Spring Creek and goes past the Torquay Golf club it becomes the Great Ocean Road. Surfworld Plaza includes three of the notable surf-equipment manufacturers, Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Piping Hot. It also has a surfing museum (1993), a community hall and a cinema.

When the Surf Coast shire was formed on 9 March, 1994, by the amalgamation of Barrabool and Winchelsea shires, both shires' offices were replaced by a new office in Torquay.

Immediately beyond the Torquay Golf Club is Jan Juc, and for planning and statistical purposes Torquay and Jan Juc are treated as a unit. The residential area of Jan Juc began in the mid 1960s, and its growth quickened in the 1980s. Consequently the population in Torquay in the 1990s was relatively aged, compared with the young families attracted to Jan Juc and the housing areas at Torquay West and Wombah Park. Many older people reside in flats or units, which comprise over 20% of Torquay's dwellings. About 40% of Torquay's dwellings are holiday homes.

In 1986 the median house price in Torquay was $76,000 (Jan Juc, $66,900) and in 1996 it was $126,000 (Jan Juc, $115,000).

Torquay's census populations have been 55 (1891), 221 (1911), 440 (1947), 961 (1954), 1,924 (1971) and 4,887 (1991). The figures for 1991 included the Jan Juc population. An estimate for 1986 was 2,892 for Torquay and 1,192 for Jan Juc.


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