Dimboola Makes a Comeback
Dimboola was a classic Australian town in decline. In 2007 the Age newspaper ran a front-page story heralding the death of 40 Victorian towns. Dimboola made the list. In 2022, "Dimboola is making a massive comeback," according to Sonia Avery, who recently opened a female clothing store called ‘Eleven and Us.’ She saw a hole in the market for resort wear labels stocked in the seaside town of Robe in South Australia.
Dimboola has evolved to become a unique shopping and eating destination. The latest eating establishment to open is Oma’s, a Dutch-style café. The café's owner, Wendy Blundell, understands that "You need a point of difference to draw people off the freeway". Six new businesses opened up in Dimboola during Covid. Andrew Bertuleit from Melbourne chose Dimboola to open his photography shop. "It looked like stuff was happening in town," he said. "The town’s transformation into a destination spot suits my products.”
Kim Cross moved from Natimuk to open her first home-wares shop called ‘Rural Industry’ that romanticises country living.
Artist Mel Obst from Natimuk opened an art studio and shop called 'Tilley and Mango'. She had been looking for a shop for five years, and when one popped up in Dimboola, she snapped it up. "I fell in love with it,” she said, "Dimboola is very community-minded."
Residents Bruce and Jo Donnelly turned the former newsagent into 'Dimboola Vintage'. They saw an opportunity to create something alternative that would complement the town's visitor experience. Their shop offers quality vintage items on one side and, on the other, "a history tour of the evolution of inventions for sound." They have exquisite pieces that have never been seen before by the current generation.
Every new shop expresses the owner's personality. Jonathan Starks opened 'Dimboola Hooked on Classics' because, 'I like old cars, and I want to help like-minded people to restore, maintain and enjoy classic vehicles."
To add to the town's vibrancy, a new market now occurs on the second Saturday of every month at Tower Park, on the former Dimboola Hotel site that caught fire in 2003. The next market on 10 December will be a Christmas special so don't miss it. It will be from 9.00 am until 1.00 pm.
You need a few hours to explore Dimboola, making it a great day trip for people from nearby towns. You can grab a café latte from the 'Dimboola Store' and check out the coolest laundromat redesigned by Meran Pilmore of the Victoria Hotel. Housed in the former National Bank of Australasia building, the Dimboola Imaginarium is a whimsical gift shop that won Commerce Ballarat’s inaugural 2022 Grampians Business Film Festival. The competition covered businesses between Kaniva and Daylesford. Winning that accolade has helped put Dimboola on the list of must-visit places. Through their dedication, enthusiasm and innovation, the shop owners have collectively started a tourism renaissance in Dimboola.