Putting mellow on the map

Darling, West Coast
Darling is a rural hub as down to earth as its most famous showpiece – wildflowers.

Take delicious charcuterie. Add local beer and wines. Stir. Enjoy.

But Darling is much more than these tempting treats. It’s a town of 10 420 folk devoted to its local produce and artists. This unprepossessing enclave – off the R27 opposite the Yzerfontein turnoff – does a great deal to invite tourists throughout the year. Events include September’s The Taste of Darling and the Wildflower Show, October’s Rocking the Daisies and January’s Darling Music Experience.

Even though it’s just a flyspeck among wheatfields and vineyards, Darling is cooking, thanks to an influx of creatives. Apart from local celebrity Evita Bezuidenhout aka Pieter-Dirk Uys and the famous Perron, there are about six restaurants, the Flying Pig charcuterie, Darling Sweet for yummy toffees, Het Bos Olives, the Wilna van der Walt Art Gallery, Splitpiece Murals in Akkerboomlaan, the Duckitt orchid nursery and Darling Brew. Oh, not forgetting its delightful wine route consisting of Cloof, Tukulu, Groote Post, Darling Cellars and Ormonde Vineyards.

When standard bearer Oloff Bergh went north through the heavy West Coast sands in 1682, Groenekloof was established. By the beginning of the 18th century, 29 farmers occupied farms in the area, of which Langfontein was one. In 1853 the Darling Village trustees board bought the farm to establish a village and named it after the Cape’s Lieutenant Governor, Charles Henry Darling.

In 1840 James Backhouse wrote, “There are no Wild Flowers like those at Darling.” Well, he was right. Subsequently, the predikant’s wife, Suzanne Malan, and Frederick Duckitt of Waylands founded the Darling Wildflower Society in 1915 and the renowned Darling Wildflower show has been held almost every year since inception in 1917.

Originally though, butter put Darling on the map. Swedes Nils Moller and G Threnstrom started a creamery here in 1899. This creamery moved to Paarden Eiland in 1950.

Darling epitomises what an atmospheric town should be: friendly, vibey, historic and pretty.