Nestled in behind the great sand Island of North Stradbroke and surrounded by the picturesque waters of the Southern Moreton Bay Island Marine Park, Russell Island is the largest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, measuring 3km wide and 7km long with an area of approximately 17.6 square km.
The island is home to 2,473 residents according to the 2011 Census. Settlement of the island by Europeans dates from 1866, when John Campbell was granted a lease on the northern end of the island. Land auctions commenced in 1870 with farmers and oystermen being the first full-time inhabitants. The arrival of the Jackson family in 1906 saw a small village created on the western side of the island called Jacksonville, that had a sawmill, pineapple canning factory, jetty and even a picture theatre. A small school was also opened in 1916. Significant residential development did not occur until the 1970s when land was subdivided. Rapid growth has taken place since the early 1990s, as large numbers of new dwellings were added to the area and the proportion of occupied dwellings increased.
Today, the island provides a relaxed lifestyle for permanent residents and weekenders, with some low-key commercial development close to the main ferry terminal on the northern part of the island. The island has a primary school, police station, medical and rural fire station, post office, library, community hall, shopping centre, butcher, post office, service station, bottle shop, veterinarian, chemist, computer repair services, web-designers, hairdresser, bakery, news agency, landscape/hire centre, scooter & car hire, storage sheds, video hire, lawyer, two licensed clubs, public swimming pool, and four real estate offices, restaurants, transport services, holiday and long-term accommodation. The Rural Fire Brigade, State Emergency Service and the Ambulance service on Russell Island receive strong volunteer support.
The Russell Island Primary School has an impressive history of educating the island children for almost a century. However, High School students and residents commute daily to school and work on the mainland eight kilometres away. The common land use for Russell Island is conservation and residential. Development density is highest in the northern half of the Island where there are fewer environmental constraints and where services have been established. The island’s road network is a mix of sealed and unsealed roads.