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.
In the 2011 Census the population of Russell Island is 2,473, 50.3% female and 49.7% male.
The median/average age of the Russell Island population is 51 years of age, 14 years above the Australian average.
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%.
There is a great deal of evidence of Aboriginal people living on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands of Russell, Lamb, Karragarra and Macleay.
On Macleay Island, Corroboree Point is believed to be a ceremonial ground and dreaming site. There is also a midden (a collection of shells, tools and bones formed after hundreds of years of gathering at that spot by Aboriginal people). Thompson’s Point was also an Aboriginal campsite and was possibly used for spotting turtles.
On Lamb Island, Harry Brook Reserve has a midden.
On Russell Island, there is an Aboriginal crossing point from the northeast tip across Canaipa Passage to Stradbroke Island.
Russell Island was originally called Canaipa. It was named Russell Island in the 1840s after Lord John Russell, Secretary of State for the colonies in the 1840s.
Macleay Island was called Jencoomercha and in the 1840s was named after Alexander Macleay, the Colonial Secretary of NSW. At the time Queensland did not exist. All of Queensland was part of New South Wales.
Karragarra Island has retained its indigenous name.
Lamb Island was originally called Ngudooroo. The origins of Lamb are not clear but it is possible that it was named after British peer William Lamb, also known as Lord Melbourne.
Russell, Lamb, Macleay and Karragara Islands Settlement to 2000
The timeline to 1950 was compiled by Redland Shire Council’s Local Historian from primary and secondary sources. The post-1950 section was compiled mainly from local newspapers unless otherwise indicated.