Prior to European settlement the Goldfields-Nullarbor subregion was home to the Aboriginal people for thousands of years. In the late nineteenth century European development and economic exploration of the subregion began with the establishment of pastoral stations in the south. In the 1880s and 1890s the discovery of gold overshadowed pastoralism.
Throughout the 1900s there was a series of boom and bust periods. From the 1960s to the early 1980s there was general decline in gold mining which was partly offset by the discovery of nickel, this lead to the ‘nickel boom’ of the late 1960s.
Today the major towns of the Goldfields-Nullarbor are Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie and Norseman. The main economic activities of the region include mining, agriculture, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, construction and tourism; however, economic activity of the subregion is overwhelmingly dominated by mining, particularly gold and nickel mining.
Although mining dominates the subregion in monetary terms, the most extensive land-use is pastoralism. Traditionally there was an emphasis on merino sheep and wool growing, however, this emphasis has decreased due to economic and environmental factors and now pastoralists are turning to other stock types.