Russell Island

Surrounded by the sparkling blue water of Southern Moreton Bay, Russell Island is a fascinating place.  We spent the day exploring it.

The ferry captain looked surprised when eleven bikes rolled on board.  We secured them, then settled down for a short cruise around the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, before coming ashore at the Russell Island Ferry Terminal.

(Photo: Adam Lynch)

Although the island is only 7.5 km long and 2.5 km wide, we had plotted out a meandering course that would take us over forty kilometres of dirt tracks and quiet paved roads.

Many of the suburban streets on the island are unpaved – which makes them perfect for an easy roll on a mountain bike.

Our aim was to avoid the tarmac, sticking to gravel roads and dirt tracks wherever possible.

There’s something comforting about the sound of relaxed conversations over the quiet crunch of tyres on gravel.

Two and a half thousand friendly Russell Islanders enjoy a laid-back lifestyle here.  No one is in a hurry.  Most people waved at us as we coasted past their houses.

At the Whistling Kite Wetlands, we followed a trail along the edge of a swamp.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Dense eucalyptus forest shaded us on one side, while open grassland stretched out on the other.

We followed a few leafy tracks through the wetlands, bypassing other interesting trails which would have to wait until next time.

“Hey Wayne, are they corks dangling from your hat?”

Despite photos and cartoons of the archetypal Aussie cork-hat, I’d never actually seen one being used before.

“No mate.  They’re bits of cardboard.  Cork is too hard to find these days.”

Whatever they were made from, they seemed to keep the flies away from Wayne’s face.

What a clever idea!


The tracks changed from gravel to sand…

…to grass.

We stopped at Rocky Point – on the south-western tip of the island.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Power pylons carried cables over Moreton Bay towards the mainland.

In the distance we could make out “Little Rocky Point” on the other side of the passage.

Adam and I set up our cameras for a group shot.

“Smile!” I said through clenched smiling teeth.

(Photo: Adam Lynch)

I pulled a face thinking the cameras had stopped shooting.

I was wrong.

We relaxed for a while at Rocky Point, enjoying the breeze and a few snacks.  There was no hurry today.

We followed a track through the trees that led to the water.

“I wonder what’s down here?”

The track stopped at the water’s edge, mud on either side.

We turned around and retraced our steps.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

We followed the power lines east towards the other side of the island.

(Photo: Adam Lynch)

The last time we had come here, this track was flooded, blocking our progress and forcing us to take a five kilometre detour.

Today we were able to get through without any problems.  There was only a small amount of mud which we passed with ease.

After heading east for a while, we eventually reached Sandy Bay on the south-eastern tip of the island.

Ahead lay the sparkling water Canaipa Passage, with North Stradbroke Island a short distance away.

(Photo: Adam Lynch)

We stood on the shore looking over the water.

This was a pretty spot.


Adam splashed through the water on his bike, and didn’t seem to mind.


The south-eastern part of the island has the most hills.

We followed some bumpy tracks through the bush, then tried our legs out on one pinch climb.

From there we followed more bumpy tracks through the bush…

…eventually emerging at a scenic high spot overlooking the passage.

“This would be a pleasant place to paddle sometime” I thought to myself.


(Photo: Tony Ryan)
(Photo: Tony Ryan)

At the bottom of the hill we rode out to the end of a boat ramp and looked out northwards at the passage between Russell and Straddie.

These sheltered bays are perfect for mooring boats.

We crested one more pinch climb.

It felt good to test out our legs on the steep grade.

“Is that a mango tree?”

Jason spotted a tree laden with fruit.

“That was one of the most delicious mangoes I’ve ever had,” Kaye told me afterwards.

Our ride was almost over.

We stopped at Canaipa Point on the north-eastern extremity of the island.

The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron has a beautiful picnic area here.

Jason stripped off and jumped in the water.

We lazily rolled back towards town, stopping at the local RSL for a quick lunch along the way.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Total distance: 40.15 km
Total climbing: 898 m
Average temperature: 30.5
Total time: 04:25:40
Download file: activity_2445363666.gpx
More data

We rode about forty kilometres in about four and a half hours including breaks.

During this time we climbed about 470 metres in elevation and I burned about 1,500 kcal.

This is a relaxing, easy ride, best enjoyed with friends.

It’s perfect for a hot summer day, because of the cool bay breezes that bathe Russell Island.

I’ll rate it 6 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks everyone for a fun day out!

I look forward to our return to the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

Here’s Adam’s video of the day.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

5 Replies to “Russell Island”

  1. Thank you Neil & Fellow Dirt
    Bike team members for a wonderful day. Enjoyed your many photos and especially the commentary, hope to bump into you all again.
    Cheers & blessings to all…
    0407 683 779
    Home & Land Specialist
    Russell Island

  2. lovely to see this document of your day on our beautiful Canaipa (Russell) Island. I am a rider and first got to know the island by mountain bike so enjoyed recognising all the routes you covered. Canaipa Island is indeed best discovered on a mountain bike or similar. There are more houses going in now and some of the ways I used to take are no longer passable but for the most part it is little changed. Did you go through Turtle Swamp Wetlands – eastern side of centre road and lots of rambling tracks coming out the back of the transfer station. Good on the ferry driver too, for accommodating 11 big bikes! I guess you could take the barge if that was a bit crowded. Slower but a nice introduction to the bay. Anyway, belated welcome to our shores!

    1. Hi Sharon
      Thanks for your kind words and welcome.
      Yes – I think we did skirt around Turtle Swamp Wetlands, and enjoyed it.
      You’ve chosen a lovely place to live.
      I hope we can return soon.

  3. Thanks for posting this! I’ve been looking for interesting places to cycle around and posts like these really help.

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