The area was named by explorer William Landsborough after a friend of his wife. European settlement began in the 1870s with the establishment of the Willibah and Benannee runs.
A townsite was surveyed in 1912 and the first land sales took place in 1913.
The post office celebrated its centenary in 2009.
- Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
- "Nelia". McKinlay Shire Council. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
- Burton, Reg (18 June 2009). "Nelia celebrates post office centenary". North Queensland Register. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
- "Branch locations". Queensland Country Women's Association. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
Media related to Nelia, Queensland at Wikimedia Commons