Dargo is one of Victoria’s most remote communities, nestled in the foothills of the legendary Dargo High Plains. The tiny town of Dargo, has a small population of only approximately 150, is an entry point for the Alpine National Park, Avon Wilderness Park and Mitchell River National Park.
We have some delightful English Workaway girls staying with us at the moment and given the rainy Saturday forecast decided a trip to the somewhat local historic town of Dargo was the order of the day. Dargo is located around 1 and 20 minutes from the township of Barinsdale, which is located a further 3 1/2 hours to Melbourne. The drive is from Bairnsdale picturesque and on easy going sealed roads.
About 45 minutes out of Bairnsdale is the Den of Nargun, which is a short drive off the main Dargo Road and well worth the effort to stop by. The name orientates from aboriginal legend. A creature of stone called the ‘Nargun’ that preys on those who stray too close to the Den. The best way to absorb the eerie atmosphere of the Den of Nargun is from a safe distance, it is not recommended to enter the Den itself as it contains fragile stalactites that are still forming and are easily damaged. The Gunai/Kurnai people also ask you to respect this special place by not entering the cave. The main picnic area is located at the Den of Nargun Carpark in the natural surrounds of the park. Toilets, picnic tables, gas barbecue and fire places are provided.
The actual walk into the Den is about 5 kms or 1 1/2hours. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, it is not overly strenuous, but does have uneven ground and some steps up and down. Our 3 year has managed the entire walk with out too much effort. Some of the features of the walk are the Bluff Lookout with views of the Mitchell River Gorge, deep green pockets of warm temperate rainforest and Woolshed Creek. As you walk through the rainforest gully, stepping stones lead you into the Den itself.
Dargo itself is known for its groves of century-old walnut trees that line the valley floor and today the town is a producer of timber, it is a popular destination for four-wheel drive enthusiasts and bushwalkers as well as trout fisherman. Many of the famous stockman families still remain in the nearby Dargo High Plains.
The history of the resides around exploration by Angus McMillan in 1839, on behalf of Lachlan Macalister, who established a run of around 8000 hectares which was managed by McMillan. Farming proved difficult in the mountainous terrain but gold traces were found and, in the early 1860s, a Government prospecting party located gold along the Crooked River. This led to a major rush along the river and further east at Mount Pleasant, the largest mining settlement in the area, which was renamed Grant in 1865. The township then provided a conveient stopover for Victorian Gold Rush miners on their way to the goldfields of Grant, Talbotville, and Crooked River.
The Victorian Government has some interesting historical notes on the Drago-Crooked River Goldfields.
What can you actually do in Dargo? Well to be honest we go for lunch and a quiet beer at the historic Dargo Hotel. We ordered a delicious homemade hamburger with chips for only $12 form the lunch menu – you can’t really go wrong. The hotel also has on offer basic log cabin and bunk style accommodation from $50 per person.
Other actives on offer include:
- First-rate 4WD touring
- White water rafting with Australia’s best rafting guides and operators
- Trout fishing, using bait and lures or try tickling in Wonnangatta, Wongungarra, Crooked and Dargo Rivers, or in Black Snake, 25 Mile and 30 Mile Creeks. Although It is best to avoid the Dargo river if there have been recent heavy rains as the due to geological nature of the river, it is prone to discolour easily and rise to levels that make shore fishing difficult and wading dangerous.
- Visit the Dargo Historical Museum
- The area is also an excellent destination for horse riding, or go on a organised ride at Conawarra Trail Ride only 30 minutes from Bairnsdale
- Bush walking and hiking
- Trail bike and mountain bike riding
- You can also visit Wonnangatta Station by 4WD, once Victoria’s most remote cattle station. Closed from early June to 31st October weather permitting. Enquiries DNRE (03) 5140 1243.
- The annual Walnut Festival runs through the Australian Easter Holiday period.
- Include a visit to Myrtle Scott’s Cottage – which include local Folk Art and country crafts, walnuts and fresh local produce. Grab a map and get some local knowledge on what to do and accommodation information.
- The Pinnacles, may be accessed from Valencia Creek, 2WD vehicle to viewing platform only and Dargo, 4WD access only. Offering spectacular mountain views.
- After something a little more then visit the Dargo Cemetery, which dates back to the 1860s; a copy of burial records may be read at Myrtle Scotts Cottage. Historic cemeteries are also located at Grant and Talbotville.
- Go gold gold panning & fossicking in the rivers and streams in surrounding hills. You will require a licence.
- Looking for a little more culture, visit the Dargo Valley Winery on the Lower Dargo Rd. Accommodation and Cafe available on site, 03 5140 1228
- Dargo Motor Inn (03) 5140 1314
- Dargo Valley Winery (03) 5140 1228
- Dargo Hotel (03) 5140 1231
- Dargo Miners Cottage (03) 5140 1251
- Dargo Caravan Park (03) 5140 1221
- Wonnangatta Caravan Park (03) 5140 1265
Food & Wine
- Dargo Valley Winery
- Dargo General Store
- Dargo Hotel
A word of warning, in summer months (December to April) beware of brown snakes that inhabit the area, and become especially aggressive from January to March.