The largest of the Bay Island group scattered through the calm waters between the Redland coast and North and South Stradbroke islands, off the coast of Brisbane, Russell is the traditional home of the Yuggera Aboriginal tribe. It is accessible only by water.
The first white settler was Sam Wills who established a salt works on the island in 1867. Those who followed, however, were primarily orchardists growing custard apples, paw-paw and avocados.
Most of the orchards went in a large and controversial sub-division in the 1970s. Many of the arguments and issues raised over the suitability of many of the blocks for the construction of homes and the consequent plunge in land values remain unresolved in the on-going battle between the local Redland Shire Council and ratepayers.
However the dispute is resolved, the council is determined that the island's natural environment is conserved, particularly the stands of grey, red, yellow and large-leafed orange mangroves which dot Russell's shoreline and waterways. Mangroves, of course, provide vital habitat for birds, fish, crabs, molluscs and sea grasses.