“This place is the real deal” write the team from The Grey Nomad Awards.
A 150-resident town in an eons-old valley in the foothills of the legendary Dargo High Plains.
Edging the Victorian Alpine country, it’s also the end of the line at this time of year. The road beyond Dargo stretches into the even more remote mountainous region and the boom gate will come down in a fortnight closing the road for the winter season.
If you’re looking for an authentic 19th century stay with all the mod cons surrounded by country beauty then this is the place. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, Dargo developed to service three 1860s gold rush towns up in the mountains. The gold rush towns did not survive – Dargo did.
And even though gold fever never actually reached here, the era did leave a legacy – groves of historic walnut trees. According to Brian, who runs the Dargo Heritage Museum, the walnuts were initially planted for stock feed.
Today they are highly sought after by award-winning chefs.
The valley’s wide river flat was thought to be suitable for other agriculture too so tobacco and hops were also trialed in the 1880s. Of course, hops is one of the key ingredients in beer and that brings me to the 1898 Dargo Hotel – our country pub stay for the night. “Personality plus” – this hotel would not be out of place in far Outback Queensland, on the Oodnadatta Track or when trekking through the Northern Territory.
There’s a public bar annex encased in stubby holders donated by travelers, an historic Furphy fire-fighting tank repurposed as a water station, gold mining relics, bar benches made from the back-end of utes, and heaps of other quirkiness – and the meals are mammoth! Add to that a huge, mostly flat riverside paddock for camping with fire pits and access to a motel-like ensuite.
There’s also super-cute log cabins if you wish to leave the RV at home. Only 90 kms from Bairnsdale, this teeny weeny town is packed with true-blue characters. It’s the winter home of Man from Snowy River types who inhabit the high plains with their cattle during summer, and it’s made me feel like (but unfortunately definitely do not look like) a young Sigrid Thornton exhilarated by the mountain air. I wouldn’t be surprised if a highly-strung colt pranced into view at any moment. Dargo, its iconic pub, fascinating Dargo General Store, gurgling Dargo River and picture postcard main street is that kind of place.
The Grey Nomad Awards recognize and reward Councils, government authorities, caravan parks, farmstays, pubs with camping, club and community group camps, tourist attractions, tour operators, festivals and businesses that provide exemplary products, services or experiences for mature-aged travellers in Australia.
We would like to thank the Grey Nomad Awards team for permission to use this text.
To learn more about the Grey Nomad Awards visit https://www.greynomadawards.com.au/