Russell commenced the Russell family’s involvement in agriculture in the 1890s.
A member of the third generation of his family since their departure from England in 1840, he enrolled in Hawkesbury Agricultural College (NSW) and on graduation commenced farming in the Tamworth district. Previous generations of the family had followed professional pursuits.
Property acquisitions followed in the Bourke (NSW) (Beemery), Cunnamulla (Nardoo and Clover Downs), Roma (Dalmally) and Dalby (Grassdale and Jimbour) districts, Dalmally (which had been the family home) being sold after the acquisition of Jimbour.
In addition to pastoral interests, W A Russell was a keen innovator, playing a key role in the research leading to the eradication of prickly pear and being an early pioneer of motorized livestock transport (1928).
The Start of the Russell Pastoral Company
Upon the death of W.A. Russell in 1932, the first Russell Pastoral Company was formed (comprising his widow Millicent Russell and her four surviving children) and it acquired his properties from his estate.His son, Charles, became managing partner.
In 1947, the Logan Downs aggregation near Clermont (together with the company which owned it, Logan Downs Proprietary Limited) was acquired from the Fairbairn family.
In 1951, the first Russell Pastoral Company sold Jimbour, Grassdale and Beemery to Logan Downs Proprietary Limited. The remaining properties were conducted under separate partnerships of the individual landowners, as companies were not at that time permitted to hold or carry on business on land of the tenure under which they were held.
Major developmental works at Logan Downs (pasture creation and improvement), Jimbour (water conservation) and Beemery (irrigation) were carried out in the 1950s and 1960s. Subsequent acquisitions included Lancevale, Paradise Downs, Champion and Harden Park (Blackall), Longlands, Speeling Point and Weelmurra (Cunnamulla) and Lila Springs (Enngonia (NSW)).
Logan Downs, Beemery, Lancevale, Paradise Downs and Lila Springs are no longer owned by the group.
Charles Russell died in 1977.
Current Russell Pastoral Company
The second (and current) Russell Pastoral Company was formed in 1980, the partners then being Charles Russell’s widow, Hilary, and her four sons Alec, David, Ian and Derek, and the manager being Logan Downs Proprietary Limited.
It acquired the livestock and plant on all of the remaining properties and although subsequently altered in structure as a result of the deaths of Derek and Hilary Russell remains the entity through which the business is conducted.