The jagged spinifex covered hills around Nullagine must be some of the harshest country in Western Australia and combined with blistering summer temperatures make it an inhospitable environment to call home. But many did call it home. Not today though as the heady gold rush days that saw a population of 3000 are long gone. Nullagine boomed after gold was discovered in 1886 and sported eight stamping batteries alone.
Todays population is closer to 180 with around 50% declaring they are of indigenous descent. The numerous stores and a trio of hotels have disappeared and a caravan park, police station, roadhouse/store and solitary pub remain to service the town.
Nullagine is surrounded by mining activity but 21st century mining in the Pilbara region usually involves a 'fly in, fly out' workforce. The region was the site of the first diamond discovery in Australia and although serious diamond mining occurs further north at Argyle there have been some commercial successes here. Rumour has it that the ground under Nullagine has untold wealth just waiting for a viable extraction method. Certainly iron ore looks like it will make an impact in this remote Pilbara corner.
Nullagine welcomes a steady stream of prospectors and fossickers who come in the tolerable winter months and shuffle through the well-picked dirt in search of agate, jade, jasper, tiger-eye and an assortment of other gemstones. Nullagine has richly rewarded many determined diggers who could handle the hardships the hostile landscape serves up.
And from Ted Gregg, on the Nullagine Road Survey in the 1890's -
I’ve seen some queer places what I thought God had quite forgot,
Out in the never-never where we used to call it hot,
But this little bit of country where old Sol comes out to shine,
Is the nearest place to Hell on Earth, this road to Nullagine!
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