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Nullagine, WA

One time isolated gold mining town between Marble Bar and Newman.

Nullagine is an old gold mining town which is but a glimmer of its former self. It is now nothing more than a park, telecentre, gym, police station, general store, library, hotel and nursing post.  It lies, a tiny outpost on the road from Marble Bar to Newman, surrounded by red granite hills which are covered in paperbark gums and dotted with rock holes. The whole area comes alive with wildflowers in the spring. It is an ideal place to pause on the long drive between Marble Bar and Newman. The park is particularly enticing.

Location

Nullagine is located on the Nullagine River 1380 km north-east of Perth on the Great Northern Highway. It is 189 km north east of Newman and 100 km south-west of Marble Bar.

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Origin of Name

Nullagine was the local Aboriginal name for the river that runs through this tiny town. It was commonly spelt Ngullagine.

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Things to See and Do

Nullagine Rest Stop
Given the isolation of the town (189 km to Newman and 100 km to Marble Bar) the attractive Rest Stop, complete with shaded area, barbecue facilities, toilets, an impressive mural and bits and pieces of old machinery, is ideal for taking a break. It is located in the centre of town opposite the pub.

Lynas Lookout
Located an easy walk from the Nullagine Hotel (although it is easier to drive down Gallop Road and follow the signs to the lookout) the lookout offers a panoramic view of the town over the town and surrounding countryside.

Nullagine Solar Power Station
Located on the Marble Bar Road to the north of the town, the Nullagine Solar Power Station was completed in 2011 and combines solar technology with back up diesel generation. The Horizon Power website (https://horizonpower.com.au/about-us/our-assets/marble-bar-and-nullagine-solar-power-stations) explains: "The power stations at Marble Bar and Nullagine incorporate technology which converts energy provided by the sun. The technology being applied provides the highest solar penetration possible, with 65 per cent of the day time load to be met from solar energy. They incorporate a single axis tracking solar farm with diesel technology and an energy storage system. This combination of technology can provide high levels of solar energy penetration and a reliable supply of power to the town. 
The new power stations:
* Generate 1048 MWh of solar energy per year
* Provide 65 per cent of day time energy demand from solar power
* Save 1100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year
* Save between 35-40 per cent diesel consumption per year (405,000 litres of fuel per year)
The Marble Bar and Nullagine Power Station Project received $4.9 million Australian Government funding through the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program (RRPGP)."

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Other Attractions in the Area

Conglomerate Gorge
Located 4 km to the north of the town the Conglomerate Gorge was important during the town's brief gold mining boom. Nearby (in the gully to the north of the lookout) are unusual walls which were built as sluices by the Chinese gold miners. While common on other goldfields, the walls are found nowhere else in the Pilbara.

Nullagine Dam
Located just off the Marble Bar Road to the north of the town and to the north of the Solar Power Station is Nullagine Dam. Dirt roads lead out to a viewing point over the dam and the dam wall.

Beaton's Creek Gorge and Daylight Pools
The beautiful water holes known as Beaton’s Creek Gorge, Garden and Daylight Pools (ask for directions in the town) are ideal places to cool off as well as popular places to fossick for gold. They are located 4 km to the west of the town on an unsealed road. The area is where both gold and precious stones can be found.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the Martu Aboriginal people had been living in the area for at least 30,000 years.

* The area was first settled by graziers in the 1880s. 

* In 1886 a prospector named N.W. Cooke struck gold.

* In 1888 prospectors moved south from the short-lived mines at Halls Creek. 

* The town became part of the general goldrush to the Pilbara in the 1880s and 1890s and between 1895-1914 it boasted three hotels, a number of general stores, 8 gold stamping batteries and a population which peaked at 3,000 - at one point it was larger than Marble Bar.

* William Lambden Owen, who was the warden of the Pilbara goldfields in the 1880s and 1890s, wrote his autobiography Cossack Gold in 1933. In it he gives an unforgettable picture of the hardships which existed on the goldfields at this time. His account of a funeral at Nullagine recalls how the coffins were made from old packing cases "with the specifications of their original contents still upon them. One of them read: 'Fresh condensed milk. Please keep away from boilers.' The other read: 'Prime Columbia salmon. Please keep away from boilers.' At the foot of one was a crowing rooster. Beneath his toes was painted the legend, 'Wake up!''

* In 1899 Nullagine was officially gazetted by the state government.

* In 1902 Nullagine was the site of Australia's first discovery of diamonds.

* By 1914 the town had a population of around 3,000, three hotels and eight stamper batteries. 

* In recent times the town and the area have attracted prospectors and fossickers because of deposits of agate, asbestos, antimony, beryl, chalcedony, copper, jade, jasper, manganese, tiger eye and wolfram.

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Visitor Information

There is no Visitor Information in Nullagine. The closest is the Newman Visitor Centre, cnr Fortesque Avenue and Newman Drive, tel: (08) 9175 2888.

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Accommodation

Nullargine Hotel, Marble Bar Road, tel: (08) 9176 2000, 0408 940 623.

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Useful Websites

There is an official website for Newman. Check out http://newman.org.au. There is also useful information about Nullagine at http://nullaginehotel.com.au/attractions-what-to-do.

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2 suggestions
  • This is a lovely little summary. Thank you to the great people who keep sites like this alive! I had a shocked giggle about the coffin construction! But an incredibly hard existence for those early Europeans who just didn’t understand the country like the original inhabitants.

    Bethany Challen
  • My poppy name sake poppy Gordan nullagine he was the only black man working with white men n they ask his last name so they named the land nullagine and my nanna also Rip Lucy nannup but my dad a taken away one n we have last name by whites Alone

    Tara Lee alone