Emile Theodore is the president of Dargo Business and Tourism Association, formed in recent times, off the back of the bushfires and coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Theodore is pleased that since both crises are now behind the township, visitors are returning to the High Country in large numbers.
In recent weeks visitation to Dargo has been steady with accommodation and eateries reporting unprecedented trade.
Mr Theodore would like to ramp up those numbers even further by ensuring the community has enough activities and events to lure, and maintain, tourists to the area.
“The Dargo BTA is looking at getting a couple of activities off the ground,” Mr Theodore told the Advertiser during a recent visit to Dargo.
Plans are in the pipeline to bring back a walnut festival, which was held many years ago and proved to be a very successful venture.
“It was well known throughout the area and a big drawcard for the town, so we’re looking very seriously at re-establishing it,” Mr Theodore said.
He said a produce market was another idea that has been suggested as a periodic event, where locals show up with their homegrown vegetables, fruits and sauces to sell to the general public.
There are already a number of people in the Dargo area selling produce from their farm gates, such as walnuts, rhubarb and eggs, just to name a few.
Mr Theodore suggests a large clearing sale could be a good annual event to entice people to come to Dargo from far and wide.
“We haven’t got any of these events off the ground just yet, but we’ve started talking to the community about them and inviting people to put forward their own ideas which they think might work well.”
Mr Theodore, a keen deer hunter, arrived in Dargo two and a half years ago with his young family.
Leaving behind a corporate marketing role in Melbourne, Mr Theodore decided to make the tree change when the opportunity arose for the family to purchase a large landholding at Castleburn, not far from the Dargo township.
“Mum and dad bought 200 acres here 11 years ago and I’m a passionate deer hunter, so it just made sense for us to ramp up and make the shift,” Mr Theodore said.
The family now runs a growing herd of 130 Black Angus cattle on their 1200-acre property.
“There’s a rich history of running cattle throughout the area,” Mr Theodore says, referencing the pioneering Treasure family, who reside nearby.
He says support, from not only the community, but local industry, since the bushfires has been comforting.
“The local community has given us a leg up and it’s been really heartwarming to see how people have thrown their support behind regional areas,” Mr Theodore said.
He said the coronavirus pandemic “has been another straw and we don’t want it to be the one that breaks the camel’s back.”
“We’re not a town to rest on our laurels, we’re about building a movement, we get on with it and we do it.”
Mr Theodore said he would like to see the Dargo High Plains Road open all year round to allow tourists continued access to the area. “When the road is open we really see an influx of people from the north via that route.
“It would be great to see it open all year round. Dargo is the gateway to the High Country and a premier High Country town, so let’s start getting serious about year round access from both the north and the south,” Mr Theodore said.
President of the Dargo Business and Tourism Association, Emile Theodore on his Castleburn property last week. K82-9942