The small community of Dargo is encouraging visitors to the High Plains town.
While Dargo wasn’t directly impacted by the bushfires, it was indirectly affected with the main road being closed to keep tourists out at the height of the fire inferno, which was racing through nearby bushland.
“Dargo looks beautiful at the moment, it’s so green and lush,” Kerry Leemon, from the Dargo General Store, said this week.
“It’s a shame it’s not being enjoyed by more visitors.”
Ms Leemon said the town was still getting a few people through, but it’s quieter than expected.
Grey nomads were still passing through Dargo as they travelled to Mount Hotham and Bright, but local businesses, such as the general store and Dargo Hotel, remain concerned about the next few months.
“We are concerned about what will happen in the future,” Ms Leemon said.
There is some anticipation that with international tourism off the books, holidaymakers will travel locally.
Ms Leemon certainly hopes so.
“We want people to spend money in bush-fire-affected areas and while Dargo wasn’t fire affected, the impact of having the main road closed to tourists has been felt.
“We’ve had zero tourists for six weeks,” Ms Leemon said.
The Dargo Hotel is still providing accommodation to fire contractors and DELWP staff who are still working in the area rehabilitating 4WD tracks in the bush that were fire-affected.
“It hasn’t been too bad, but we’re still recovering from the impact of the fires and business isn’t back to where it should be,” Helen Hall, the owner of the hotel, said.
“It’s been a struggle to get people back here at all.
“There were a few about on the long weekend. We’d normally do 250 lunches and dinners over that period, but we did about 120-150.
“While it’s not too bad, we didn’t get as many people as we hoped.
“We have a few bookings at Easter, but we’re worried they might shut us down because of the coronavirus.”
Concern about being closed down was reiterated by Christian Barrett, who runs the Dargo River Inn.
Mr Bartlett told the Advertiser, “we’ve got bookings, but I think they might be cancelled”.
“We have a wedding in two weeks but my assumption is it will be cancelled.
I don’t know what’s going to happen; it’s not looking very promising for anyone,” he said.
Concerned local businesses this week established the Dargo Business and Tourist Association with a view to encouraging more visitors to the town.
Ms Leemon has been instrumental in getting the association off the ground.
“The focus will be on getting some murals that display Dargo’s history as well as planning some festivals for the town,” she said.
“We want to explore how we can attract more people to Dargo.”
Ms Leemon said establishing a dump to get rid of grey waste from RVs was one option being looked at.
“I guess what we’d like to get across is it’s very safe up here after the fires,” Ms Hall said.
“Dargo does look really good at the moment and most of the 4WD tracks are open.”
IMAGE: Dargo is looking lush and green at the moment and visitors are being encouraged to take a trip to the High Country. (PS)