Torquay is a township in Victoria, Australia, which faces Bass Strait, 21 km south of Geelong and is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. It is bordered on the west by Spring Creek and its coastal features include Point Danger and Zeally Bay. At the 2006 census, Torquay had a population of 6,695.
View from Point Danger, looking towards the Torquay surf beach
The Torquay area is famous for its surf beaches, with Jan Juc and the world famous Bells Beach located on the town's south-west outskirts. Other popular beaches are Point Impossible Beach and Southside Beach. It was home to the popular Offshore Festival in the late 1990s. Many of the world's most famous surf companies have their home in Torquay, including Rip Curl and Quiksilver- all of which make up part of the Surf Coast Plaza, which provides shopping and eating, as well as the Surf World Museum.
Torquay's population usually triples between January and end of February, when the school holidays end; the town also hosts end of year Schoolies week celebrations, joint with Lorne, Victoria's most active Schoolies destination.
Wathaurong Aborigines lived in the area before white settlement. From the 1860s picnickers began to frequent the location, which was originally known as Spring Creek, after the watercourse along its south-western edge, but it was named Puebla in the 1882 Victorian Municipal Directory. James Follett, who settled there in 1871, came from Torquay, the seaside town in Devon, England, and at his suggestion the name Torquay was officially adopted in 1892.The Post Office opened on 20 August 1894..On 3 April 1908 the Spring Creek bridge was built, connecting the town to Anglesea.
In 1891 the Joseph H. Scammell sailing ship struck the reef near Point Danger in Torquay and subsequently became wedged on the reef and as a result the ship broke up in the heavy seas.The cargo of the Scammell was washed onto the beach of Torquay and was looted, the anchors of the Scammell are still on display at the Torquay front beach and the Torquay boat ramp.
In 1900 a primary school was opened in the newly built Presbyterian church, moving to the recreation hall in 1901, a permanent school building not opened until 1910. A bowling green, tennis courts and a golf course were opened by the 1920s.The town once had 145 bathing boxes on the main beach. In 1946 the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club was formed, opening their current clubrooms in 1971 after the previous one burnt down. Today it is the oldest and largest club in Victoria.
Recent years have seen increased development of the area. With the 'old town' between the highway and the beach almost fully developed, housing spread to Jan Juc, west of Spring Creek, in the 1970s, and new estates opened up to the north of the town after the 1980s. There was conflict between long-term residents and those behind some developments, in particular over the former Torquay Primary School site on Bristol and Boston Roads, which was sold by the government for luxury apartments and an expanded shopping centre, instead of being retained for community uses. In 2001, The Sands golf club and residential development commenced construction to the north west of the town on the site of the former Torquay Tip, which closed in the early 1990s. The resort opened in 2004.