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Russell Island: Experience Local Island Living

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by Gill Booysen (subscribe)
Zimbabwean-born writer based in Brisbane
Published June 7th 2012
Instead of heading to one of the more exotic tourist destinations to experience island life, why not spend the day on a local island or rent a property on Russell?

Rentals and home stays can be found on the net or via local estate agents, or try the Russell Island Motor Inn, located 100m from the main jetty. ( We stayed at 'Water's Edge').

Coochiemudlo, Macleay, Lamb, Karragarra and Russell are the five permanently inhabited Southern Moreton Bay Islands that nestle within Moreton Bay (Quandamooka) and all are just a ferry ride from the mainland.

Approximately 15.9km² in size, Russell is the largest and home to about 3000 people, many of whom commute daily to work in Brisbane.

Home to evocatively named landmarks such as Kinbbinkibbinwa Point, Ooncooncoo Bay and the Whistling Kite Wetlands, Russell (Canaipa) has a rich history; following indigenous habitation, limeburners, timbergetters, oystermen and sugar, fruit and cotton farmers of yesteryear called the island home.

Dwellings on Russell today vary from manicured high-rise mansions and neatly maintained suburban-type dwellings, to aged, partially collapsed caravans and weathered ground-bound yachts.

Things to do:

Cycle your way around the island, taking in detours off High, Minjerriba and Centre roads – many side roads / tracks are untarred so sturdy tyres are a good idea - aim to end up at the main jetty at high tide for a dip to ensure there is water in the fenced off swimming area.

Take a swim at the Russell School pool which is open to the public, or rent the tennis court and equipment.

Call in at the community centre on Jackson and check out the op-shop for a surprisingly wide selection of clothing, crockery and general bric-a-brac.

Visit Luke's 'Coffee Cart' on Kings for colourful umbrellas, tarot readings, flying flags, potted herbs, friendly chatter and good coffee.

Walk peaceful, tree-lined dirt roads, free of speeding traffic; bird watch, or spot the variety of abandoned Russell Island 'car bombs' along the way - make a game of it and guess the make.

For fresh fish and chips, head to the friendly folk of 'Black Pearl', and make time to enjoy the great value coffee / cake combo – yes, only $6 and coffee is in a mug.

Check out Aunty Alice's for the great value daily specials and the big, all-day breakfast.

Find local artworks and supplies at 'Art Stuff & Nonsense'.

For an insight into local island history, visit the museum situated behind the community centre – opening hours are limited.

Visit the bowling club and the RSL.

Collect illustrated pamphlets and listings from the island property groups and take a self-guided island tour to view the advertised properties.

For west-facing sunset spots, try the lush green grass of the Jackson oval or southern, pylon-lined Rocky Point, but don't forget the bug spray - (Russell Island Deodorant).

Kayak around the island from the Lions Park off The Boulevard; pass live-on and pleasure vessels moored in Canaipa passage and view the large, east-facing homes with private moorings.

Creep up on red-pincered mangrove crabs on the mud flats at low tide and marvel at their courtship gestures before they dart furtively back into their holes.

An Olden Holden


Braai / Barbecue at the Lion's Park – gas and wood burners available – there is a grassed area for impromptu cricket and soccer games - wade knee-deep into the waters of Canaipa passage to cast your line or walk the island's biggest sandy, mangrove-lined stretch at low tide.

If you need a break from bright city lights and can do without on-tap, organised entertainment, there is lots to do on Russell, and all within easy reach of the city.

For further information on Russell and the other islands, check out the free Redland Shire Council brochure written by Tracy Ryan and entitled "Southern Moreton Bay Islands Heritage Trail".
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Why? Live local, play local - support local business, explore Brisbane's islands
When: At your leisure
Where: Russell Island
Cost: Affordable
Your Comment
nice article, my mum has land there.
by Christina Brandalise (score: 3|3052) 1853 days ago
Great to see some positive feedback about Russell Island. Thanks. :)
by jenni (score: 0|2) 2203 days ago
How bad are the mozzies really?
by homeq (score: 0|2) 1787 days ago
Russell island is amazing im staying at harrisons hut, overlooking willies island. As im writing this I am enjoying a coffee on the second floor verandah basking in the sun. The locals are friendly and helpful and the place has a great atmosphere. So far haven't seen a mozzie or midgie. Absolutely love this place
by greyr (score: 0|2) 1757 days ago
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