Russell Island (Moreton Bay)
Redland City, Queensland
|Population||2,836 (2016 census)|
|• Density||93.91/km2 (243.2/sq mi)|
|Area||30.2 km2 (11.7 sq mi)|
|Time zone||AEST (UTC+10:00)|
|Location||40 km (25 mi) from Brisbane CBD|
Russell Island in Redland City is the biggest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, situated between the mainland and North Stradbroke Island. 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.
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. Land auctions commenced in 1870. 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.
Russell Island is known for the infamous land scams of the early 1970s, when many of the islands farms were divided into over 20,000 blocks. 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. 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.
The Russell Island Public Library opened in 2001.
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. 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. Backing up the policeman, Queensland Police make frequent visits to the island with a high-speed barge which can carry two police vehicles.
Russell Island has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
- Canaipa Ridge Road ( ): Mrs Fischer’s Grave
- 25-27 High Street: St Peter’s Parish HallCorduroy road
- Corner Jackson Road and Esplanade ( ): Jacksonville (Jacksons Oval)
- Weedmore Road: Corduroy road
Like every Australian Island that has not undergone a concerted/coordinated feral cat eradication program, Russel Island has an ever-present population of feral cats. This is unfortunate, because Russell Island is also a well-documented 'port of call' for numerous species of migratory sea birds, and the island also has resident populations of native rodents. Oddly, while the presiding council and some residents seem intent on perpetuating a myth that there are koalas living on Russell Island, this is in fact very clearly not the case. No koalas have lived on Russell Island for at least the last 100 years, and it is quite possible that no koalas have ever lived on Russell Island.
Russell had 1,779 permanent residents in 2006 up 35.9% since 2001. 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. Fast ferries and scheduled barges straddle the distance to Redland Bay quickly for most of the day.
The median age of the Russell Island population was 51 years, 14 years above the national median of 37.
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%.
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.
Russell Island has a small shopping village offering a variety of services including; Super IGA supermarket, post office, petrol station, chemist, bakery, hairdressers, Chinese restaurant, newsagent, kebab shop and takeaway food shop. It also has several real estate agencies showing houses for sale and rent.
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, public pool, various real estate agents, landscape/hire centre, 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 Peter's 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-supporting. Services include power, phone, broadband, water and garbage collection. 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.
Russell Island State School is a government primary (Prep-6) school for boys and girls at 38-64 High Street ( In 2017, the school had an enrolment of 176 students with 18 teachers (14 full-time equivalent) and 18 non-teaching staff (8 full-time equivalent). It includes a special education program.).
Proposed name change
In 2015 the Russell Island residents groups, together 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. The name Canaipa was collected from Yugambeh people and identified as a Yugambeh-Bundjalung language word from the Ngaraangbal dialect spoken by the Pimpama clan meaning place of ironbark spear/digging stick, the name is used by both the Quandamooka and Yugambeh people, who assert traditional ownership. The move is motivated by the desire to improve public perceptions (and hence real estate values) which were damaged by the earlier land scams.
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- "Public Libraries Connect". 24 April 2014. Archived from the original on 29 January 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
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- "ACARA School Profile 2017". Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
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- "Proposal: Assign to the officially named, Russell Island, the dual name of Russell Island/Canaipa Island". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- "Yugambeh Language Site". yugambeh.dalang.com.au. Archived from the original on 21 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
- Grant Young (26 May 2015). "Russell Island name to change, new suburbs proposed". brisbanetimes.com.au. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- Baisden, Faith; Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture (Runaway Bay, Qld.) (1994), Yugambeh language region : south east Queensland Australia, Runaway Bay, Qld. : Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture, archived from the original on 5 September 2020, retrieved 21 August 2018
- Kerr, Judith (4 September 2014). "Russell Island is one step closer to being renamed Canaipa, its Aboriginal name". Redland City Bulletin. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015.