Nannine is a ghost town in the Mid West region of Western Australia. Nannine was formerly a gold mining town. John Connolly discovered gold at the site in 1890, prompting a gold rush to the area. A town was proclaimed in September 1891 and gazetted in 1893. It is claimed that it was the first town in the region.

By 1894 the town was large enough to be given its own electoral district, and in 1896 construction began on a Northern Railway between Nannine and Cue, Western Australia, which was completed in 1903. The continuation of the line to Meekatharra was begun in 1909.

Nannine is an Aboriginal name, "Nannine Wells" being first recorded by a surveyor in 1889. The meaning of the name is not known.

The earliest days of gold discovery at this site are shrouded in controversy, but according to one source it is likely that the first suspicions of gold in the area were apparently held by Ingpen and Watts, station hands on the Annean pastoral station. In about May 1890 they showed the site to J. F. Connolly, a New South Wales mining engineer, who found gold but he does not appear to have been too impressed. In October 1890 McPherson and Peterkin were directed to the same site and found significant quantities of gold. By August 1891 they and others had recovered about 1,700 ounces of gold. The Murchison Goldfield, which included Nannine was proclaimed in September 1891. By December about seven hundred men were at the field.

Nannine railway station

The original settlement was down in a gully area between the later town and the mines to the east and north of the town. In 1892 John Forrest, the Commissioner for Crown Lands decided to have lots surveyed and a townsite declared, although Forrest referred to the place as "Annean", the name of the nearby pastoral station. When the local miners heard the auction of lots was to be in Perth, eighty five of them petitioned Forrest to have the auction in Geraldton. The lots were surveyed in August 1892, and the townsite named Nannine, as "it is situated 10 miles from Annean Station and 3 miles from Nannine Wells", and was also the name of the proposed electoral district and adjacent gold mining lease.

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Where is it?

Nannine is located on the northern bank of Lake Anneen, approximately 35 kilometres south-southwest of Meekatharra, and 735 kilometres north-northeast of Perth.

The townsite was gazetted in April 1893. Following the survey and the release of the town blocks for purchase, many if not all of the existing premises including the businesses moved to the official townsite. Exactly how rapidly this migration occurred is not known, but it was apparently complete by 1896/7. This may have resulted in some businesses closing down, not wishing to make the move to rated land.

The town and surrounding area was inundated by heavy rains in 1913, Nannine receiving 1.82 inches (46 mm) in a day, causing the railway line to Meekatharra to be flooded and creating a washway a few miles north of the town. By 1919 the town was in deep decline.

Photo: State Library of Western Australia

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