Darke Peak is home to Darke Range, Caralue Bluff, and Carappee Conservation Park with Carappee Hill being the highest exposed granite rock mass on Eyre Peninsula.
Darke Peak township was originally proclaimed Carappee in 1914. The township and nearby range was re-named Darke Peak in 1940 after John Charles Darke who was speared in 1844 whilst on an exploratory trip.
"The township takes its name from the nearby hill, Darke Peak, which was named in honour of the explorer, John Charles Darke, whose grave lies on a small plain on the western side of the hill.
Darke was buried on 25th October 1844 and the following month Governore Grey expressed a wish that some eminence in the region of the grave whould be named to honour him. In 1865 surveyor Thomas Evans who was performing a trigonometrical survey of the Gawler Ranges, in this part of Eyre Peninsula, named the 1564 ft high eminence, Darke Peak.
In 1909, William Greig Evans, son of Thomas Evans, was conducting a survey of the area for the land to be used for agricultural purposes; at the same time a committee enquiring into the necessity of extending the railway north from its terminus at Yeelanna, had caused to camp at Carrapee where William Evan had camp.
The Commission of Crown Lands, who was also Chairman for the Committee, the Hon. L O'loughlin, asked Evans how the name Darke Peak originated. When told, he stated that if the grave could be found he would see the government eredtec a monument.
Mr William Evans could not help with the grave but he initiated enqurieis and subsequently an old settler, Mr Alfred King, revealed that the grave had been pointed out to him by an old blackfellow about 50 years before, and he was able to give a description of where it lay.
The survey party, with other old identities George Standley, C Bull and JT Whyte, attended at the locality, described by Mr King, and found wheel tracks crossing the plain. In some places quite large pines had grown between teh wheel tracks. A member of the survey party, Alfred Bristow Oswald, tracked the wheel marks and eventually, by joint effort, the party discovered the presumed site of the grave.
To prove whether it was the grave, surveyyor Evans was given permission to have the site opened. He did so and human bones were found at a depth of about 4 feet. The authorities, satisfied that the grave had been located, had Evans fence it off and inn 1910 a ten foot high marble obelisk was erected over the grave. It is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and is contained in a small governemnt reserve.
The inscription reads: Sacred to the memory of John Charles Darke Surveyor who was mortally wounded by natives when exploring this locality on October 23rd 1844 and died the following day. Erected by the South Australian Government 1910.
The Darke Peak range is about 4 miles long, contains 8 peaks and is complsed basically by quartzite. In 1895 it was reported that George Standley was prospecting in the area and in a trial hole, near DArke Peak, had mined ore which assayed 33 ounces of silver to the ton. On the eastern slopes of the range is a quarry from where quartzite is taken for use as road building material, railway and concrete aggregate.
On the southern end of the range can be seen the 2 million gallon service tank to which water from Lock is pumped to supply the town and surrounding farms" To and About Eyre Peninsula, Harold Normandale 1986
Darke Peak Range
The Darke Peak Range is a remarkable table-topped picturesque 10km range. Marks the grave of explorer and surveyor John Charles Darke who was speared by natives whilst travelling through the area in 1844. This area is highly recommended to the naturalist, photographer, painter, bush walker and bird watcher.
Federation Look Out
This Lookout was constructed during 2001, to commemorate Australia's Centenary of Federation, on the southern side of 10 km Darke Range. A directional plaque show points of interest. It is a 800m walk to the lookout from the car park area.
Carappee Hill Conservation Park
The most extensive and highest exposed granite rock mass on Eyre Peninsula, at 496 metres above sea level. A great view, with wildflowers and rock waterpools in season and frequented by kangaroos and other wildlife. An energetic climb to the top (allow 2 hours) marked with white painted arrows from the southern point, with a plaque and book to sign at the summit; or stroll on the eastern side.
"The area is surveyed as Section 100, Hundred of Pascoe, County of Jervois. It was dedicated as a conservation park on 30th August, 1973. The park covers an area approx 920 hectares. Carappee Hill is one of the prominent features of Eyre Peninsula as it contains the biggest mass of granite in the area. Why it is there and how its many features arose will be a question many will ask. In general terms is has a hemispherical shape when viewed from a distance in almost any direction"
Excerpt from Carappee Hill Conservation Park Survey Report 1974
Located north of Darke Peak, Caralue Bluff reserve has easy access to view approx 70 varieties of wildflowers and native flora. Picnic ground on the western side with bushwalking and hill climb to overlook a large part of Eyre Peninsula.
Hambidge Conservation Park
Hambidge Conservation Park covers 37,847ha and is notable for its mallee scrub and extensive sand dune system. The rainfall in the park is below 400mm and consequently much of the park is remarkably similar to the Big Desert district in the Mallee area of Victoria.There are more conservation parks in this small area than anywhere else in South Australia, all forming the transition zone of east meeting west in vegetation types.