A small town in the south west located 30 km west of Arthur River, Darkan is a small settlement servicing an area of sheep, wheat, and cattle raising. It is a little town on the western edge of the wheatbelt characterised by the usual solitary pub, shire office and sleepy settlement.
Six Mile Cottage
Six Mile Cottage (10 km west) is a very small two-room slab house built by a sleeper cutter for the railway in the early 1900s by Dick Strange a sleeper cutter. It is a fascinating example of how small you can make a house. It is left unlocked so the visitor does not need to seek permission or a key to visit it.
Arthur River (30 km east) serves as a fuel stop for travellers, with some of the historic buildings open to tourists. The Arthur Wool Shed Group, with shearing shed, shearers' quarters, sheep dip and concrete cricket pitch, is one of the most prominent buildings in the town.
History of Darkan
The first settlers moved into the area in the 1850s after the completion of the road from Albany to Perth. At this time a small settlement grew up on the Albany Road at Arthur River. Today the remnants of that settlement can still be seen with the Police Barracks and Gaol dating back to 1866, the Mount Pleasant Inn (1869), and St Paul's Church (1885). By the end of the century Arthur River was the major centre in the area.
As the road lay to the west of Darkan there was no prospect of a settlement at the present townsite until the building of the railway in 1889. Darkan was declared a townsite in 1905 and the following year, in anticipation of the construction of a railway station to serve the surrounding area, the Darkan Hotel was built. The present hotel in Coalfields Road has experienced a number of modifications but still can claim to be the town's first building.
The small railway station was built in 1907, a Road Board office was constructed in 1908, and over the next decade the usual range of services - butcher, general store, baker, blacksmith, cafe - appeared.
The town's name is believed to be of Aboriginal origin, meaning "black rocks". As the name refers to a place, in all probability it would more correctly be spelt Darkin as Aboriginal place names always ended with the letters "in" or "ing". The name was first used for the farm property of pioneer settler William John Gibbs in 1889.