Colac Otway Shire

Colac Otway Shire, western Victoria, was formed on 23 September 1994, by the union of Colac City, Colac Shire, most of Otway Shire and small parts of Heytesbury and Winchelsea Shires. Its area is 3415.6 square km.

The southern (Otway) part comprises a narrow coastal strip with the township of Apollo Bay, the forested Otway ranges with small towns such as Beech Forest and Lavers Hill, and northern slopes which include farming. The main northern-slopes town is Forrest. Beyond there is the Colac district, a rich grazing area for sheep and cattle. There are several dairying villages such as Cororooke, mainly east of Lake Corangamite. The dairying areas also include vegetable growing, mainly potatoes. The city of Colac contains about half the shire's population and is on the Princes Highway and the West Coast railway. There were railway lines north and south from Colac to the dairying areas and the Otway timber towns, but they were closed in 1954 and 1962 respectively.

In 1995-96 the value of the shire's agricultural outputs was $112.8m for livestock products, $29.3m for livestock slaughterings and $22.9m for crops. Livestock products were mainly wool and dairy. There were about 200,000 sheep and lambs in the shire (88% in the Colac region) and 97,000 dairy cattle (about 40% in the northern Otways). The main crops were potatoes and barley. Farming occupied 52.4% of the shire's area. About two-thirds of the farmland was in the Colac area. At the 2011 census dairy farming accounted for 5.7% of the shire's total employment.

Apollo Bay is on the Great Ocean Road, an area of increasing tourism. The Otways have scenic attractions, but there was unresolved debate about timber harvesting, particularly for pulpwood, until 2008 when the State Government did not renew the last timber licence.

Colac Otway Shire's census populations have been:

census date population
1991 21,382 (est)
1996  20,710
2001  19,997
2006  20,295
2011 20,345

Further Reading

Colac, Otway, Winchelsea and Heytesbury Shires entries