Ross Island is immediately east of the Townsville central business district, the two being separated by Ross Creek. Ross Island's other (eastern) boundary is the Ross River. Much of the so-called Island is low-lying. All were named after William Ross, Townsville's first storekeeper and first publican.

Ross Island's sole building between 1868 and 1875 was Townsville's hospital. It later had a pilot station and an immigration barracks near the Ross Island Hotel (1879) at the corner of Archer and Palmer Streets. Railway and harbour works stimulated settlement on Ross Island, particularly the erection of railway workshops. A causeway over Ross Creek at Queens Road linked Ross Island to central Townsville.

The wharf area had a primary school (1884), St John's Church of England (1884) and several hotels along Palmer Street, including the Crown (1883). Ross Island's estimated population in 1887 was 2500 people, including 200 school children. There were 550 houses and five hotels. Ross Island had been excised from Thuringowa local-government division in 1883 and put with Townsville; the wharf precinct was known as South Townsville, although lying east of central Townsville. The Victoria Bridge, the continuation of Palmer Street, was built in 1889, joining South Townsville to the town centre.

The other (south) part of Ross Island became the suburb of Railway Estate.

J.J. Page, Ross Island mud-pickers: a history of Ross Island/South Townsville State School, Townsville South State School, 1984

Railway Estate and South Townsville entries

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