The town of Nullagine originated after the discovery of gold in the area in 1886 by prospector, Nat Cooke. A growing population and community pressure caused the state government to gazette the town in 1899.
Between 1895 and 1914 the town boomed and contained a number of general stores, three hotels, eight stamp mills and a population of more than 3000. By World War II it had dropped to 1500 and today is about 200.
In 1902 (possibly 1895) Nullagine was the site of Australia’s first discovery of diamonds but the development of this and subsequent small alluvial deposits proved not economically viable. However, the town still attracts fossickers and prospectors who visit the surrounding area, which is particularly rich in minerals such as agate, asbestos, beryl, chalcedony, jade, jasper, tiger eye and ores of antimony copper, manganese and tungsten.
Nullagine townsite lies alongside the Cajuput Creek, which is an arm of the Nullagine River.
The name ‘Nullagine’ is derived from the aboriginal name for the Nullagine River – ‘Ngullagine’. The meaning of the word is unknown.
The Yirrangadji Aboriginal Community is based in Nullagine. The Martu people make up the bulk of the town’s population.