Latrobe’s population growth is ‘unprecedented’ as people seek a calmer pace of life

Moving from the inner suburbs of Melbourne to a quiet town in northwest Tasmania has been a blessing for Kate Manserra and her young family.

“We were just tired of the mad rush and wanted a change,” she said.

They are just part of a wave of people settling in the Latrobe Council area.

“It’s definitely a good decision. The lifestyle is really easy,” Ms. Manserra said.

From 2019 to 2020, the Municipality of Latrobe added 323 new residents, up 2.8%.

This makes it the second fastest growing communal area in Tasmania behind Glamorgan-Spring Bay and ahead of the communal areas of Sorell, Tasman and Brighton.

Ms Manserra likes being able to walk to work, daycare and hospital, which was not possible in Melbourne.

“We can get by with just one car and everything is within walking distance which is really attractive,” she said.

“It is also very nice to have a garden for the first time in our life.”

Finding a home was a challenge, but they have now bought their first home and have no plans to move.

“I really think of people looking for a place to live in Latrobe because it’s not easy,” she said.

Latrobe Council’s population growth between 2019-2020 was the second highest in the state. (ABC News: Paul Strk)

Cool, coastal life

Retirees are also among those moving to Northwest Tasmania.

Moya Costello and her husband left the rivers of northern New South Wales last year, drawn by the cooler temperatures and to be closer to their family.

“We wanted to live close to the coast and have a view. It turned out that Tasmania was where we could afford both of those things.”

Over the past 12 months, Ms Costello said she has seen tremendous growth in the region.

“I think the whole area is changing very, very quickly given the amount of construction going on,” she said.

“There are also a lot of families with young children who are moving. Hopefully that means there will be more infrastructure, like better shopping, more medical services and more public transportation.”

A middle aged woman standing and drinking a glass of wine.
Moya Costello moved to Port Sorrell from NSW with her husband.(Provided: Moya Costello)

Empty earth blocks in the northwest aren’t on the market for very long.

Peter King is a subdivision manager and has sold blocks in the area in record time.

“We have no more land to develop here,” he said.

“We have sold the Mersey Fields estate, and a lot of young starting families and a lot of retirees have joined.

“It just ticks a lot of people’s boxes when they are looking to relocate.”

He said buyers looking to enter the market need to be patient.

“When the land becomes available register your interest as quickly as possible,” he said.

A middle-aged man wearing a cap standing on a sidewalk in front of newly built houses on a sunny day.
Subdivision seller Peter King says there haven’t been enough blocks of land to meet demand from people to relocate to Latrobe and surrounding areas. (ABC News: Sean Wales)

Growth is unprecedented

Latrobe Mayor Peter Freshney described the growth of the council area in recent years as unprecedented.

“Traditionally we’ve seen growth in the greater Port Sorrell area, but over the past four to five years we’ve seen incredible growth in Latrobe,” he said.

This growth should continue.

In 2017, the Tasmanian government estimated that the population of Latrobe Council would increase by 24% by 2042, the third highest in the state.

But the growth poses challenges for the local council.

“I wouldn’t say it’s happening too quickly, but definitely issues with infrastructure and services for people,” Freshney said.

The main street of a town in northwest Tasmania.
The mayor of Latrobe described the city’s growth as “unprecedented” in recent years. (ABC News: Jessica Moran )

“What is more worrying is the increase in construction costs. We are seeing a 25-30% increase in what has been budgeted and this is having an impact on our capital work programs.

Growth is also straining medical services.

Ms Manserra said it might be difficult to register to see a doctor.

“We used our old GPs in Melbourne and did telehealth if we didn’t want to wait,” she said.