Place where D. H. Lawrence stayed in 1922
Although located on 22 km east of Perth (just south of the Great Eastern Highway), in the hills which rise behind Perth, Darlington has managed to resist the pressure of the city's urban sprawl. In fact it remains one of the few locations in the hills to retain an early 20th century village atmosphere.
One of Darlington's main claims to fame, like Thirroul on the south coast of New South Wales, is that the novelist, D. H. Lawrence stayed there during his visit to Australia in 1922.
The Darlington district was first explored by Europeans in the 1830s as they pushed east from Perth. By 1840 a track had been built by timber cutters who made their way across the ranges from Perth to York.
In 1883 Dr Alfred Waylen purchased land in the area, named his property 'Darlington', and established a vineyard. In 1889 a small railway railway station, named Darlington, was constructed. With the arrival of the railway, settlers began to move into the area in greater numbers although the steep climb from the coast to Darlington ensured that many a steam engine groaned its way up the hill.
After World War I the district became a popular retreat for city dwellers and a number of guest houses were established. They are still are part of the town's character although many have become private homes. Of these guest houses the most famous was that run by Mollie Skinner and Nellie Beakbane at 5-7 Lukin Avenue. It was to this guest house that D. H. Lawrence and his wife arrived in May 1922. Lawrence's description of Darlington in the 1920s is, remarkably, still appropriate today: 'We are here about 16 miles out of Perth - bush all around - marvellous air, marvellous sun and sky - strange, vast, empty country - hoary unending 'bush' with a pre-primaeval ghost in it - apples ripe and good, also pears. And we could have a nice little bungalow - but - but - BUT - Well, it's always an anticlimax of huts. - I just don't want to stay, that's all. It is so democratic, it feels to me infradig. In so free a land, it is humiliating to keep house and cook still another mutton chop.'
It was as a result of this stay that D. H. Lawrence and Mollie Skinner wrote The Boy in the Bush. Published in 1924, it was the only novel which Lawrence wrote in collaboration with another author.