|The History of Darlington
The heart of Darlington was once covered by
one of the Darling Range's earliest vineyards and wine from Darlington Vineyard was
matured in the stone cellar that is now part of the village hall.
Title to this land was secured in 1883 by Dr Alfred Waylen,
Chief Medical Officer of the fledgling Swan River Colony. However, it was
Waylen's partner, the Honourable Josceline Amherst — formerly Private Secretary
to the Governor, Sir Napier Broome — who played a more active role in running
the vineyard when he retired to the hills in 1889. Some of the pine trees that
once bordered the vineyard still stand around the oval. By the turn of the
century the vineyard boasted 10 acres of fruit trees, and 50 of vines, and it
produced red and white wines and table grapes.
The original winery, now the hall.
In fact, this building is now part of a larger one incorporating two halls.
The outbuildings at right were replaced by the "new" greater hall, built
on to the winery. Check the photograph on the home page, wherein this old
wing is now enhanced by an entry porch area
(Photo from "A Place in the Hills" by Trea Wiltshire)
Amherst built a country retreat, Holmesdale, which still
stands in Darlington Road. A Journal of Agriculture report at the turn of
the century observed: "Darlington gained a railway siding shortly after Amherst
moved there, and also a surveyed road connecting the place with the York road at
Bilgoman Well." Clearly the gentleman vigneron (a member of the Legislative
Council, the Swan Roads Board and the President of the Royal Agricultural
Society of WA) was an influential figure.
Gradually more settlers were attracted to the hills to work
in the orchards, vineyards and nurseries, the quarry at Boya or the timber mill
at what is now Glen Forrest. Some settlers built weekend cottages in Darlington
before moving to live off the land; others who settled in the village worked or
studied in Perth, catching the daily 8.03am train to the city.
In the early decades of the 20th century, guest houses
flourished in the Darling Range, and there were several in Darlington. Two of
the best known still stand: Dalry Lodge and Leithdale. The latter was run
by author Molly Skinner, and in 1922 the celebrated British writer D. H.
Lawrence and his wife Frieda spent time at the guest house. Lawrence and Molly
later collaborated on a book, The Boy in the Bush. Molly Skinner's
autobiography The Fifth Sparrow gives a vivid description of her life in
Social events in Darlington ranged from musical evenings to
cricket matches by the Nyaania Creek. By the l930s, the village had a general
store (on the site of what is now Darlington Liquor and Gourmet), tearooms (now
Darlington Studio Art Gallery and Tearooms), a Post Office, a butcher's shop
(later extended several times, today The Pines), several churches and a primary
school (which began in the ballroom of Leithdale in 1912 before moving to its
present site in Glen Road). It was joined by the Helena School in the l941.
(written by Trea Wiltshire, author of A Place in the
Hills, on sale at Darlington Post Office)
information on the history of Darlington is available at the Mundaring and Hills
Historical Society, at the Station Master's House, corner of Railway Parade and Burkinshaw Road,
(Phone: 08 9298 8944)
The Shire of
Mundaring's early history is also covered in Mundaring, a History of the
Shire by Ian Elliot (on sale at the Shire offices in Mundaring, and
available at Shire libraries.)
Range picnic" from A Place in the Hills