BOY FROM THE BUSH: Russell Collins.
BOY FROM THE BUSH: Russell Collins. Contributed

Russell fondly remembered from Warwick to Rocky

RUSSELL Stanley Collins was born on December 29, 1951 in Warwick, the son of Stanley and Elizabeth Collins.

He passed away earlier this month after a long illness.

Russell was the younger brother to Graeme and Roslyn. He attended Warwick East State School and Warwick State High School.

Growing up in Warwick, Russell's first exposure to rural life came while visiting a farm owned by family friends at Karara and his love of horses grew from there.

He quickly worked out that riding horses was far more enjoyable than school and left home at age 15 to become the youngest inaugural student at Longreach Pastoral College.

Russell lived in many areas of rural Queensland, including Rockhampton.

He was instrumental during his five-year term as executive chairman of the Australian Professional Rodeo Association in bringing the national rodeo finals to the town of his birth.

Russell was a member of Rotary during his time in Mt Isa and for many years he was the arena director for the Mt Isa Rotary Rodeo and Mt Isa Campdraft and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary for his contribution to the community.

His innovative approach came to the fore as he was responsible for bringing two big drawcards to the rodeo; the big screen and well-know television announcer Darryl Eastlake.

He returned to Mt Isa last year and took out the over 55s team roping with Adam Purse.

Russell bought into a few racehorses, including Polish Knight which won the Myer Tulloch Stakes to qualify for the Melbourne Cup, before injury intervened.

His life journey started in Warwick, then to Longreach Pastoral College where he found his life around animals.


After graduating from LPC, Russell headed to Lansdowne Station, Tambo, as a stockman and in his first year was appointed head stockman at age 18.

After Lansdowne Station, Russell returned to teach at LPC and became an assistant lecturer on horsemanship.


National service was next for Russell. His date of birth got called out of the lottery and following his training he was posted to Townsville.

After the army, Russell headed back to the pastoral college and was married in 1974.


As part of his return from national service, the army provided the opportunity to undertake additional training and Russell undertook a stock and meat inspector's course at Gatton Ag College.

Soon he was off to his next adventure when jobs were going at Burdekin Rural Education Centre at Ayr.


He decided it was time to start understanding more about business and left Ayr for Boulia in far west Queensland to manage the local general store for a number of business partners.

During this time he co-designed the famous Boulia Hat. The design was submitted to Akubra who took it on and within 12 months there were about 1000 Boulia hats being worn.

When the drought set in and threatened the local rodeo, Russell pulled out all the stops. He got in touch with a famous Indian rainmaker from America (Chief Running Cloud) to come to Boulia to pray for rain. No rain came but it provided plenty of publicity for the town.

Mt Isa

In 1986 Russell moved the family to Mt Isa where he took on the role of managing a wholesale food business for his business partners.

Russell convinced his partners it was the right time to diversify and they purchased Flora Downs Cattle Station near Camooweal - an hour and a half drive west of Mt Isa.

Russell sold up in Mt Isa in 1998 after 12 years but not before studying for his auctioneer's licence and starting Mount Isa Auction Centre which he ran as a family business.


When the family moved east, he looked at a few businesses before settling on Savage, Barker & Backhouse (SBB), the stock and station agency at Rockhampton. Under Russell's ownership, SBB became the largest privately-owned stock and station agency in Queensland for a period of time. He sold the business to Ruralco in 2008. The family then bought into Anglestone Steel.

How do you sum up a man like Russell? Bushie and businessman, gentleman and larrikin, entrepreneur, mentor and a family man.

He is all of these things, and more, yet he told a close friend he only wanted to be remembered as "just as a good bloke”.

Russell is survived by wife Trish, sons Patrick and Daniel and four grandchildren.

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