Russell Island (Moreton Bay)

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For other places with the same name, see Russell Island (disambiguation).
Russell Island
Redland CityQueensland
Aus - Russel Island.PNG
Location of Russell Island
Population 2,473 (2011 census)[1]
Established 1870
Postcode(s) 4184
Location 40 km (25 mi) from Brisbane GPO
LGA(s) Redland City
State electorate(s) Electoral district of Redlands
Federal Division(s) Division of Bowman
Suburbs around Russell Island:
Redland Bay Karragarra Island North Stradbroke Island
South Redland Bay Russell Island North Stradbroke Island
Rocky Point Cobby Cobby South Stradbroke Island
Russell Island in Moreton Bay

Russell Island in Redland City is the biggest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, situated between the mainland and North Stradbroke Island in the state of Queensland, Australia. The island is eight kilometres long (north-to-south) and nearly three kilometres wide. The channel separating it from the mainland is known as Main Channel and the channel separating it from North Stradbroke Island is known as Canaipa Passage.


A basic survey of the island was conducted by Robert Dixon in 1839. He named the island after Lord John Russell the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the 1840s.[2]

The island was first settled by Europeans in 1866, when John Campbell was granted a lease on the northern end of the island closely followed by John Willes and his family.[3] Land auctions commenced in 1870.[2] Farmers and oystermen were the first full-time inhabitants, but with the arrival of the Jackson family in 1906, a small village was created on the western side of the island called Jacksonville, that had a sawmill, pineapple canning factory, jetty and even a picture theatre.[3] A small school was opened in 1916.[2]

Russell Island is known for the infamous land scams of the early 1970s,[4] when many of the islands farms were divided into over 20,000 blocks.[3] At the time, the area, with a population of less than 500, did not have a local authority enforcing planning regulations. Heavily advertised and sold off by unscrupulous vendors, these blocks were often not where the unwary customers thought they were buying.[4] It all rode on the vague promise of a bridge from the National Party government at the time. Media reports exposing the scam pointed to blocks that were underwater at high tide and the lack of public land.[5]


House arriving on Russell Island

Russell had 1,779 permanent residents in 2006 up 35.9% since 2001.[6] However, this changes dramatically on weekends and holidays when many of the 30% of dwellings on the island which are classified as unoccupied are visited by their owners.[citation needed] Fast ferries and scheduled barges straddle the distance to Redland Bay quickly for most of the day.

In the 2011 census, Russell Island recorded a population of 2,473 people, 50.3% female and 49.7% male.[1]

The median age of the Russell Island population was 51 years, 14 years above the national median of 37.[1]

68.8% of people living in Russell Island were born in Australia. The other top responses for country of birth were New Zealand 6.1%, England 5.7%, Scotland 1%, Philippines 1%, Germany 0.9%.[1]

85.8% of people spoke only English at home; the next most common languages were 0.5% Hungarian, 0.4% German, 0.4% Filipino, 0.4% French, 0.3% Croatian.[1]


Russell Island has a small shopping village offering a variety of service including; Super IGA supermarket, post office, chemist, bakery and a single takeaway food shop.

Russell Island has most of the same services as the mainland that span across the island including a police station, fire station, ambulance service, medical practice, pathologist, service station, post office, hairdresser, veterinarian computer repair services, web designers, video hire, bottle shop, lawyer, library, two licensed clubs, public pool, various real estate agents, landscape/hire center, storage sheds, car hire, cafes, motor inn and a sports/recreational complex.


The two licensed clubs, an RSL and the Russell Island Bowling Club, provide entertainment and bistro facilities most nights of the week.

A Council-built hall near the main wharf is available and, centrally located on Jackson Street, the Bay Islands Community Centre has rooms. Some church denominations meet at the hall but others use the historic St Peters Church Hall just up High Street. In 2009 the Kennedy Farm Community Centre was revamped with Commonwealth money and is now available for small scale community activity. Resident driven plans for the 4.5 ha block include sporting facilities and a community farm.

Electricians, builders and plumbers are resident on the Island, making the island somewhat self-supportive. Services include power, phone, broadband(in very limited numbers with a waiting list of up to 2 years), water and garbage collection but sewerage and tarring of the vast majority of streets is still some time away. Garbage is trucked to the mainland for disposal. The Rural Fire Brigade, State Emergency Service and the Ambulance service receive strong volunteer support. Several volunteer Justices of the peace live on the island. A small primary school for around 180 students has an active Parents and Citizens club. In early 2010 the Bay Islands Community Centre with grants from Community Service and the Council, opened a youth drop in centre on Jackson Road.

On 12 April 2008, a public 25 metre swimming pool jointly funded by the Redland City Council, the Queensland State Government, a rates levy and nearly 20 years of donations from residents was completed. Management has been contracted to the YMCA. The first bathers hit the water during that weekend but, lacking any heating, it was closed for the winter.[7] Sufficient solar heating for spring and autumn use was installed in 2009.

Another big event for the island on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 when the $1.2 million Police Station was opened by the Queensland Police Minister, bringing Senior Constable Michael Verry to the island as its first community policeman.[8] Backing up the policeman, Queensland Police make frequent visits to the island with a high-speed barge which can carry two police vehicles.[9]

Proposed name change[edit]

In 2015 the Russell Island residents groups with the Redland City Council, have proposed to transition the island's name to its traditional Aboriginal equivalent – Canaipa Island. The proposal is that the dual names of Canaipa Island/Russell Island will be used with the island's name reverting to its traditional name once it becomes more widely accepted. Canaipa in the language of Quandamooka people, the islands traditional owners, translates to a place of ironbark spear.[10][11] The move is motivated by the desire to improve public perceptions (and hence real estate values) which were damaged by the earlier land scams.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Russell Island (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Horton, Helen (1983). Islands of Moreton Bay. Spring Hill, Queensland: Boolarong Publications. pp. 77—80. ISBN 0-908175-67-1. 
  3. ^ a b c Dorrington, Wendy: The Pioneers of Russell Island, self-published, 2003, Russell Island, QLD, ISBN 1-876780-39-8
  4. ^ a b Shannon Molloy (18 August 2007). "$150m resort plan unveiled for Russell Island". Brisbane Times. Brisbane Times. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  5. ^ The Russell Island Land Fraud in Grabosky, Peter (ed.) Sutton, Adam (ed.): Stains on a white collar, The Federation Press, 1989, Annandale, NSW, ISBN 1-86287-009-8.
  6. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Russell Island (Redland Shire) (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 11 October 2009. 
  7. ^ (3 April 2008). Lee Shipley. News Flash: swimming pool on Russell to open this month. BayJournal.
  8. ^ (27 April 2008). Lee Shipley. Bay Islands gets first Community Policeman. BayJournal.
  9. ^ (19 July 2007). In October 2011 Russell Island welcomed its new police officer Sergeant Graham Staib. New Bay police vessel named. BayJournal.
  10. ^ Grant Young (26 May 2015). "Russell Island name to change, new suburbs proposed". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Proposal: Assign to the officially named, Russell Island, the dual name of Russell Island/Canaipa Island". Queensland Government. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Kerr, Judith (4 September 2014). "Russell Island is one step closer to being renamed Canaipa, its Aboriginal name". Redland City Bulletin. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°40′S 153°23′E / 27.667°S 153.383°E / -27.667; 153.383