Nellie was born in the far eastern desert near Oodnadatta, on the remote property of the Wintinna Homestead Cattle Station where her father worked as a shepherd. Nellie grew up with her brother in their families' Wiltja, a hand built shelter made from found materials including sheets of tin, dried logs and branches.
When she was still quite young, Nellie took on a job at the Granite Downes Cattle Station in the stationmaster's home. She worked with the stationmaster’s wife and other Anangu ladies washing dishes and cleaning the house in exchange for rations. Nellie married a young stockman who also worked at the Granite Downes Cattle Station, and together they came to Indulkana with their two young children. Nellie worked for many years at the pre-school and with young children for most of her career. Today Nellie is a favoured Pampa (respected senior lady) among both adults and children at the Indulkana community . Nellie's paintings recall the country of the eastern desert lands, remembering where her father walked the country, the rolling sand hills of the Simpson desert, and the songlines that connect the rockholes and creeks.