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The townsite of Nullagine is located in the Pilbara region, 1364 kilometres north northeast of Perth and 297 kilometres southeast of Port Hedland. Gold was first discovered in the Nullagine area by N W Cooke in 1886, but it was the mid 1890s before there was local community pressure for a townsite to be declared. The survey of lots was made in 1897/8, and the townsite was gazetted in 1899.
The name of the townsite is derived from the Aboriginal name applied to the nearby river. This was first recorded as the Ngullagine River in the 1880s, but popular usage dropped the first "g", the current spelling being used for the goldfields. The meaning of the name is not known.