Nullagine, Western Australia

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Western Australia
Nullagine location map in Western Australia.PNG
Location of Nullagine in Western Australia (red)
Population 217 (2006 census)[1]
Established 1899
Postcode(s) 6759
Elevation 412 m (1,352 ft)
LGA(s) Shire of East Pilbara
State electorate(s) Pilbara
Federal Division(s) Durack
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
44 °C
111 °F
11 °C
52 °F
100 mm
3.9 in

Coordinates: 21°53′17″S 120°06′25″E / 21.888°S 120.107°E / -21.888; 120.107

Nullagine is an old goldrush town in Western Australia's Pilbara region. It is located on the Nullagine River 296 km south-east of Port Hedland and 1,364 km north-north-east of Perth on the old Great Northern Highway.

The town originated from gold being discovered in the area in 1886 by a prospector, N.W. Cooke. The population increased sharply as a result and by the mid-1890s the community wanted to have a town declared. Lots were surveyed and released in 1897 and the state government gazetted the town in 1899.

Nullagine comes from the Aboriginal name of a nearby river, the Ngullagine river; the meaning of the word is unknown.[2]

Besides gold other minerals were mined in the area including diamonds and other gemstones.[3]

Between 1895 and 1914 the town boomed and contained a number of general stores, three hotels, eight stamp mills and a population of over 3,000.[4]

Its population was 1,500 prior to World War II. Now, with the decline of gold mining, only about 200 remain. However the town still attracts fossickers and prospectors who visit the surrounding area, which is particularly rich in minerals such as gold, agate, asbestos, beryl, chalcedony, jade, jasper, tiger eye and ores of antimony, copper, manganese and tungsten.

The town is also the place of the Yirrangadji Aboriginal Community. The Martu people make up the bulk of this population.[5]

Iron ore[edit]

Newly discovered iron ore deposits to the south-west may lead to a revival of the town.

A company called BC Iron, which takes its name from the Bonnie creek “paleochannel” system of ancient river beds in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, believes it has a chance of proving up between 200 million and 600 million tonnes of pisolitic (pea-shaped) iron oxide in what was once a diamond exploration location. With iron ore prices continuing to rise, that translates into a potential bonanza with an in-ground value of up to A$30 billion. The three-stage challenge for BC will be first in proving that it has the ore in the ground, that it is of a quality that Asian steel mills want to buy, and that it can secure a transport route to the coast, and find room at a port for handling exports.[6]

Because the size of the ore deposit at Bonnie Creek is too small to justify its own railway to the port, the company has negotiated a "mine gate" joint venture with Fortescue to use the Fortescue Railway in exchange for half the mine's output.[7]


Hammond Innes' 1973 novel Golden Soak was adapted into a six-part television series in 1979 part of which was filmed in Nullagine. It starred Ray Barrett in the lead role.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Nullagine (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  2. ^ Western Australian Land Information Authority. "History of country town names – N". Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  3. ^ "Australia's North West - Newman, Marble Bar and Nullagine". 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  4. ^ "The Sydney Morning Herald - Travel - Nullagine". 2004-02-08. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  5. ^ "Truscott Mining - Tennant Creek and Nullagine". 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  6. ^ "BC Iron - The Time, The Place, The Metal". 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-16.[dead link]
  7. ^ Australian Financial Review 25 July 2012, p26