The town’s name is of Aboriginal origin and was first recorded by a surveyor in 1877, as with Moodiarrup further south, but the meaning of the name is not known. The town was established in 1916 when the Collie-Wagin railway was built, and gazetted in 1918.
The first building was a store built by Lewis Hibble, and was followed in the 1920s by a few settlers. Until 1968, the railway was the main employer in the town, and a major timber mill operated by the Hughes family operated here which employed three or four families.
Duranillin today is a small town with a post office and store. It serves as a trading post and meeting place for the farming families and agricultural community in the broader area, and periodically stages local events which attract visitors.
Lake Towerrinning, located south of the town, is the main attraction of the area – a semi-freshwater lake covering 256 hectares (633 acre), and a popular swimming spot with picnic areas and clean sandy beaches, offering water skiing and swimming as well as serving as a sanctuary for aquatic bird life – over 57 varieties of bird have been observed in the area. The State Government announced plans to upgrade facilities at the lake in May 2006. A small winery is also nearby.