South Gippsland Shire
Drivers of population change
South Gippsland is predominantly a rural Shire with a flat coastal plain rising to the Strzelecki Ranges in the north. There are several towns scattered across the landscape, the largest of which is Leongatha. Korumburra, Mirboo North and Foster are the other significant towns, but most settlements are small in size. Most towns were established to serve their rural hinterlands. In more recent decades, coastal villages have become more significant, particularly around Waratah Bay. Places such as Sandy Point and Venus Bay are characterised by small populations and high dwelling vacancy rates, which reflects their role as holiday destinations. Areas in the north and north west of the Shire are accessible to the employment markets of the Latrobe Valley and increasingly, the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
European settlement dates back to the 1840s but became more rapid from the 1860s when large agricultural holdings where established. The discovery of coal deposits and improvements to transport infrastructure, such as the construction of railway lines, further encouraged growth, particularly in the numerous settlements that were established as service centres for the agricultural industry. The most significant development occurred in the interwar and post war period. Larger towns, particularly Leongatha, diversified their economies as they began to establish their role as regional centres rather than agricultural centres. Though agriculture remains an important part of the South Gippsland economy, it no longer supports the working population it once did. Regardless, towns still play a vital role in terms of providing employment, as well as housing for families and older couples/singles.
Migration patternsIn recent years South Gippsland has attracted two main population groups - families and retirees. However this does differ across the Shire. Generally, rural areas attract families, and relatively few retirees. Regional towns and coastal areas attract both groups, with retirees far more numerous in coastal areas. All small areas in South Gippsland record net out migration of young adults, primarily to Melbourne, for education and employment purposes - a trend that is common across most of regional Australia.
Population and household forecasts, 2016 to 2036, prepared by .id the population experts, November 2017.
Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals only, based on answers to the census question “where did the person usually live 5-years ago.
Housing role and function
The settlement pattern in the Shire, comprising regional towns, rural areas and coastal settlements, means that housing market roles differ widely. The larger towns, particularly Leongatha and Korumburra, provide relatively affordable home owning opportunities to families, but also attracts older residents from rural and coastal areas seeking better access to health and other services. In contrast, coastal areas tend to have a dual housing market role, attracting families, retirees and other lifestylers. The out-migration of young adults is common to all small areas in the Shire.
Future growth in the Shire is likely to be concentrated in Leongatha and Korumburra, where there is signficant supply of residentially zoned land. Significant supply has also been identified in Nyora, which is expected to grow rapidly in the medium to long term. Nyora has the advantage of a rural location, but also has good access to employment markets in south eastern Melbourne and West Gippsland. The natural amenity of the coastal strip and some rural locations will continue to attract lifestylers and retirees, but the role of the coastal strip as a holiday destination means that vacancy rates are likely to remain high.