The area was originally settled by William John Gibbs and his family in the 1860s. Gibbs established a property called "Darkan", using a local Aboriginal name whose meaning is unclear. The townsite developed when the Collie to Narrogin railway line was built, and in 1906, the townsite was gazetted. The town grew quickly thereafter, with a Road Board being established and numerous shops and services being established in the following years. The railway closed in the early 1990s, but the surrounding productive wool growing and mixed farming area along with tourism have ensured the town's survival.
Darkan is the social and political centre in the Shire of West Arthur. The town has a roadhouse, supermarket, golf course, shire hall, hotel, synthetic tennis courts, basketball courts, primary school and a skatepark. A new addition to this social list is 'The Shed', a workshop mainly for the town’s retirees that consists of a woodworking and a metal working area for the construction of numerous personal projects. A heritage trail (in reality the Road Board Office, Shire Office and Pioneer Hall (1911)) has been established in the town.
To visit Darkan a diversion is required. Should the traveler have time to spare the visit will enjoyed.