Torquay Library (SurfCoast), Torquay, Australia

A Library Planet post by Fiona Kells

Torquay is Australia’s (if not the world’s) surfing capital. The world-famous Bell’s Beach – home of the Rip Curl Pro – is nearby and the town is the birthplace of iconic surfing brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver. Marking the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, Torquay is a popular holiday spot and a quintessentially Australian place.

You might surmise from this that the Torquay Library is not well frequented: who wants to be indoors in a place like this when you could be out catching a wave or sunbathing, right? Well, you’d be wrong. Torquay Library is a well-loved community library. On the morning I visited, it was buzzing with a range of users from young to old and the staff were all smiles.

The Library is at the back of a shopping mall, and adjacent to the gnarly Australian National Surfing Museum. The exterior is a bit plain and mall-esque, but the interior is light, modern and colourful and spread across different levels. (The Library underwent a substantial upgrade in 2012, providing much-needed extra space, shelving and facilities.)

You will find the expected fare of fiction and non-fiction print and multimedia material for adults and children: books, music, magazines, movies, audiobooks, ebooks. But there’s more. Torquay Library also has a ‘Library of Things’ that includes thermal imaging cameras (borrowable by members to check the energy efficiency of their homes).

On-site facilities include 12 public internet access PCs; iPads for use in-house; photocopiers, printers (you can print from home or elsewhere and pick-up at the Library) and scanners; and free wifi (for library members). There are also touchscreen PCs with literacy and numeracy games for children.

The Torquay Library hosts a variety of regular events including Preschool Storytime, Toddler Time and Babytime, the Junior Mix (older kids’ after-school activities); and the Torquay Library Book Club. A range of special programs, author talks and other events are also offered.

The Torquay Library is part of the Geelong Regional Libraries network. It is at Torquay Surf City Plaza, Beach Road, Torquay, Victoria. It is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10am–5.30 pm; Wednesday 10am–3pm; Saturday 10am–1pm; and Sunday 1.30pm–4pm.

Postscript: Recently, the Surf Coast Shire Council announced plans for a new Cultural Facility and Library in Torquay. This four-in-one facility will comprise a new Library, the Australian National Surfing Museum, and a Visitor Information Centre and Arts Facility. There will also be maker spaces and rehearsal spaces. Longer term, Council also hopes to add a 250-seat theatre, gallery and artist in residence area to the facility.

Post-postscript: Stuart and I have spent a lot of time at Torquay, including while staying at the old beach shack (now demolished) that Stuart’s grandfather built at Breamlea, just east of Torquay. After it was sold, half of Stuart’s grandparents’ block became the site for architect Sean Godsell’s iconic cubic Breamlea beach house. Our personal library – which Godsell also built – has a large section on the history of surfing.


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