Darnum, a small rural town in Gippsland, is 115 km south-east of Melbourne and 8 km past Warragul. It is close to the Moe River, and occasionally the river flats are flooded. According to Bunce's Language of the Aborigines of the Colony of Victoria (1859), Darnum is an Aboriginal word meaning parrot.
The Gippsland railway line was surveyed in 1873 and provision was made for a town or station at the site to be named Darnum. The line opened in 1878 and within a few years there were a store and a railway station (1880), a school (1881, a post office (1882) and the Commercial Hotel (1883). Sawmills and a tramway were set up south of Darnum. In 1903 Darnum was described in the Australian handbook:
As the southern slopes were cleared of timber, the land was turned over to dairying. Milk depots were opened in 1912 and 1915, and the brine-cooled milk was railed daily to Melbourne. Later it was taken by road tanker to Melbourne or to local dairy factories. In 1996 Bonlac opened a dairy factory nearby. Since acquired by Fonterra, the factory was upgraded in 2009 for increased production of milk powders.
There was also a saleyard at the station (c1910), and sawmills operated until 1980. A treated timber factory (1967) operates between Darnum and Allambee.
Town facilities began with a mechanics’ institute and an Anglican church (1891). Replacement halls were built in 1907 and 1956, the latter 12 years after a severe fire in 1944 swept through Darnum. There are also a picturesque Presbyterian church (1952) and a private museum with a large collection of musical instruments.
The highway and the railway have grown, and divide Darnum. In 1997 an overhead traffic interchange was built, and the 1956 hall was moved to accommodate the interchange.
Darnum has a hotel (1932), a memorial hall, a primary school (126 pupils, 2014) a recreation reserve and the former Presbyterian church which is multi-denominational.
South of Darnum there is Mount Worth State Park which preserves some of the area’s once extensive dense forest.
Darnum’s census populations have been:
E.M. Williams, Darnum: a history of the school and district 1881-1981, from forests to farms, 1981