Dargo River Inn, VIC

By: John ‘Bear’ Willis, Photography by: Matt Fehlberg

There’s a sense of peace, and escape from the wider world, at the Dargo River Inn.

"Find your freedom". What an apt description of life at the Dargo River Inn. Dargo is a jewel in the crown of the Victorian High Country and what better way to explore its fruits than from the hospitality of the inn.

There’s a gentle feel to Dargo, even though it’s a town where excitement begins. Dargo is nestled in a magnificent river valley bordered on all sides by the majestic rolling hills and steep slopes of the Great Divide. It stands alone as a civilised outpost – but none too civilised that it hasn’t lost its history. It’s a town that was built before the race was run by rats, and men and women felt the lure of the mountains in search of its treasures, yet still had the time and inclination to simply stop and smell the roses (well, maybe the eucalypts in this case).

Dargo has a rich history dating back to the early gold rush days. While there was some gold locally, the township served mainly as a base for prospectors seeking their fortunes in the surrounding regions. There are still those that visit Dargo with the lure of finding that elusive nugget; however, its primary attraction is the natural riches of the surrounding mountains, streams and wildlife.


This is a township that happily coexists with kangaroos in the main street, wombats on the roadsides, deer in the hills, wedge-tails overhead and trout in the streams. The river flat is simply breathtaking and the sun reflects the natural hues in glimmering displays of natural accents. It’s a place where you can feel at peace, leaving the outside world behind.

Dargo is also a town of excitement. It is a base for visiting trail bike riders (utilising both motorised and pedal power) who enjoy the challenges and serenity of the surrounding hills and valleys as well as those of the Alpine National Park, Avon Wilderness Park and Mitchell River National Park. There’s trout in them there streams! Hence, it’s a great place to cast a line, particularly for fly flickers who can wade for many miles through the gently bubbling tailraces of the Dargo and Wonnangatta rivers and tributaries.

Dargo is known for its groves of century-old walnut trees that line the valley floor. Many High Country cattlemen have homes in the stockbreeding and agricultural district and the area is rich with the history of the still thriving timber industry. Visit Wonnangatta Station by 4WD, once Victoria’s most remote cattle station. There’s kayaking, rafting, hunting, horse riding, hiking and some of the most challenging offroad 4WD adventures in the country, or you can sedately take in the serenity of a remote rural community – plus its views, history, people, flora and fauna.


The Dargo River Inn makes a terrific base for exploration, or just putting the feet up to blow away the cobwebs of modern living. It takes around an hour and a quarter to reach Dargo off the Princes Highway either coming from Stratford to the west or Bairnsdale to the east. It’s a beautiful drive starting in the foothills grazing country and then winding up through the thickly forested mountains to reach the remote township with its estimated population of just 150.

Situated on the outer edge of the township as you enter from the south, the Dargo River Inn is not to be confused with the famous Dargo pub which is further up the road and a must-stop while you’re in town. The inn is set on six acres in a flat grassy valley bordered by steep mountains. Step out of the car and breathe the fresh air as it fills your lungs with unadulterated and refreshing oxygen and unique country smells. Park the car, bike or horse out the front and be greeted by a warm and rustic atmosphere in the main bar and the hospitality of new owners Christian and Marissa Barrett, a lovely young couple who will go out of their way to ensure your stay is comfortable and entertaining, or maybe just secluded and private if you want it that way.

Have a talk to the locals at the bar; there’s great tales in every one of them.

Have a game of pool, a beer, a wine or something heavier, or just enjoy the calming ambience of the big wood heater thawing your bones on a cold Victorian winter’s day. It’s a cool place to while away the hours in air-conditioned comfort around the bar with friends when the mercury starts to rise, or head outside to the abundant beer garden and lose yourself in the magnificent scenery with a fresh cold beer off the tap, or maybe sample the local wines.


Why bother with the cooking when you can enjoy the hearty offerings of this marvellous country inn and the comfort of the relaxing dining room. There’s a full menu all cooked to perfection with loving care, but don’t forget to try their good old Aussie parma – especially the one with a Mexican twist with guacamole, sour cream and jalapenos for a really tasty sensation.

What a great place for a wedding, that special birthday, family gathering or maybe just a romantic getaway for two. There are four fully self-contained cabins and another with bunk-style accommodation for a larger group. They all have kitchen and cooking facilities and feature a large fridge in each – not just a useless bar fridge! The cabins are clean, neat, tidy, warm, cool and comfortable and all feature separate living areas and large balconies so you can entertain your own party with an outdoor barbecue.

Costs start at a very reasonable $60 per person/night, with a minimum charge of $110 per cabin/night.

The lawn area is well maintained, flat and well drained, ideal for pitching a tent, camper trailer, caravan, or perhaps a whole jamboree! There are independent toilet and shower facilities for campers, topped up with extra portables for peak demand periods like New Year’s Eve when the pub brings in bands and entertainment. There are also special nights throughout the year, so log into their website or social media and make a date for their next event.

The Barretts say, "Turn up Friday night and make the most of the area. Saturday morning kick off with one of our famous big brekkies, ride all day and return to an ice cold one from the bar and a hearty meal." Now that’s an invitation too hard to refuse!

The Dargo River Inn is located at 13 Lower Dargo Road, Dargo. You can reach Christian and Marissa Barrett at the Dargo River Inn on (03) 5140 1330 or by email at info@dargoriverinn.com.au.

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