Darke Peak is a small agricultural town located in central Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. The town is the population centre for the surrounding agricultural district and has become a minor historical tourist town, with the grave of John Darke, an early European explorer located near the township. The town has a number of limited facilities, including accommodation, grocery and fuel supplies.
The town takes its name from the explorer John Charles Darke, who was injured in a spear attack by Aborigines in the vicinity of the peak on 24 October 1844. He died the next day and was buried at the foot of the large peak. Governor Grey expressed a wish that some landform in the region of the grave should be named to honour him. In 1865 surveyor Thomas Evans who was performing a trigonometrical survey of the Gawler Ranges and named the 1564 ft high mount, ‘Darke Peak’. In 1909, another surveyor, W.G. Evans, reported that he had found bones in a grave and was satisfied they were the remains of Darke. Darke’s grave and monument are located on the western side of the range, still standing as a memorial to the first European who explored this area. The memorial was erected by the SA Government in 1910.
The township of Darke Peak was originally proclaimed Carappee in 1914. The town was renamed in 1940 after the peak that bears John Charles Darke’s name as further honour to the explorer. A school opened in the town in 1917. Darke Peak includes Darke Range, Caralue Bluff, Carappee Conservation Park and Carappee Hill in the surrounding area, with Carappee Hill known for being the highest exposed granite rock mass on Eyre Peninsula.
Darke Peak is predominantly a farming community, with surrounding areas producing cereal crops, with sheep also produced as a backup for when the region experiences poor rainfall. Local farmers such as Trevor Morrow have been farming the area for a number of generations, predating the establishment of the town. The farming areas are very similar to other towns across the central Eyre Peninsula, growing much the same crops under similar climate conditions. Tourism is a minor component of the towns economy, with Darke’s Grave, The Darke Range and various tourist drives the main attractions. Tourist information is present at the The Peak Stop shelter.