The Bastard from the Bush [poem, circa 1900]

[Editor: This is an anonymously-authored bawdy rhyme, apparently from the early 1900s (or possibly the late 1890s). Some have attributed it to Henry Lawson; however, it is doubtful that he would be the author, given his reported aversion to swearing. The attribution to Lawson is likely to have arisen from the fact that the poem was obviously based upon his poem “The Captain of the Push” (first published in 1892).]

The Bastard from the Bush

As the night was falling slowly over city, town and bush,
From a house in Hogan’s Alley came the Captain of the Push,
And his whistle loud and piercing woke the echoes of the Rocks,
And a dozen ghouls came slouching round the corners of the docks,

Then the Captain jerked a finger at a stranger on the kerb,
Whom he qualified politely with an adjective and verb.
Then he made the introduction, “Here’s a covey from the bush,
F*** me blind, he wants to join us, be a member of the Push!”

Then the stranger made this answer to the Captain of the Push,
“F*** me dead, I’m Foreskin Fred, the Bastard from the Bush!
I’ve been to every two-up school from Darwin to the ’Loo,
I’ve ridden colts and black gins, what more can a Bastard do?”

“Are you game to smash a window?” asked the Captain of the Push;
“I’d knock a f***ing house down,” said the Bastard from the Bush.
“Would you take a maiden’s baby? asked the Captain of the Push;
“I’d take a baby’s maiden,” said the Bastard from the Bush.

“Would you bash a bloody copper, if you caught the c*** alone,
Would you stoush a swell or chinky, split his garret with a stone,
Would you make your wife a harlot, and swear off work for good?”
Again that bastard’s voice rang out, “My f***ing oath, I would!”

“Do you help the girls pick gum leaves?” asked the Captain of the Push;
“No, I hit ’em with the branches!” said the Bastard from the Bush.
“Would you knock me down and rob me?” asked the Captain of the Push;
“I’d knock you down and f*** you!” said the Bastard from the Bush.

“Would you like a cigarette?” asked the Captain of the Push;
“I’ll take the bloody packet,” said the Bastard from the Bush.
Then the Pushites all took counsel, saying “F*** me, but he’s game.
Let’s make him our star basher, and he’ll live up to his name.”

So they took him to their hide-out, that Bastard from the Bush,
And they gave him all the privileges belonging to the Push;
But soon they found his little ways were more than they could stand,
And finally the Captain thus addressed his little band:

“Now listen here you buggers, we’ve caught a f***ing tartar;
At every kind of bludgin’ that bastard’s got the starter,
At poker and at two-up he shook our f***ing rules,
He swipes our f***ing liquor and he robs our f***ing girls.”

So down in Hogan’s Alley, all the members of the Push
Laid a dark and dirty ambush for the Bastard from the Bush,
And against the wall of Riley’s pub, the Bastard made a stand,
A nasty grin upon his dial, a bike chain in his hand.

They sprang upon him in a bunch, but one by one they fell,
With crack of bone, unearthly groan and agonizing yell,
Till the sorely battered Captain, spitting teeth and coughing blood,
Held an ear all torn and bleeding in a hand bedaubed with mud.

“You low polluted bastard,” snarled the Captain of the Push,
“Get back to where you come from, that’s somewhere in the bush,
And I hope that vile misfortune may tumble down on you,
May some lousy harlot dose you, till your bollocks turn sky blue.

May the pangs of windy spasms through your aching bowels dart,
May you shit your bloody trousers, every time you try to fart,
May you take a swig of gin’s piss, mistaking it for beer,
May the Push you next impose on, toss you out on your bloody ear.

May the itching piles torment you, may corns grow on your feet,
May crabs as big as spiders attack your balls a treat.
Then, when you’re down and out, and a hopeless bloody wreck,
May you slip back through your arsehole, and break your bloody neck.”

[Editor: As this bawdy poem is one that has been passed on verbally, no original source is listed.]


  1. Whatever happened to good old blokey poetry like this. I really like this type of literature, and so do many of me mates. This type of poetry is in true blue Aussie style. The do gooders an poofs with all their politically correct bullshit are trying to turn the Aussie blokes into henpecked pansies. Let’s stand up and keep literature like this alive.

  2. Michael Freeland says:

    Lawson was renowned for writing such poems for his mates at the pub and then cleaning them up for “The Bulletin”.
    “The Bastard from the Bush” was the original and the “Leader of the Push” was the cleaned up version for publication.
    At least that is what we were told in the fifties by the older generation.

  3. Capt. Barry Swindells says:

    I first heard this in the ’50’s when I was Chief Mate on a little cattle/passenger ship running up the West Coast to Singapore and back, it was a slightly different version, I never learned it all, but recollect ‘he came from Port Augusta, all covered in camel dung, he came from Port Augusta where the barmaids eat their young’. I was pleased to see it in print, I think it’s a classic and can stand alongside ‘Eskimo Nell’, ‘Lochinvar’, ‘Little Yellow Idol’, ‘Rothenstall Annual Fair’ and ‘Murphy Will Not Sing Tonight’, etc. etc. Like ‘Road to Gundegai’ it’s just, – well, – Australia, wish I could do it all again.

    • Lucille Legge says:

      Oh how I laughed when I read this last comment! Port Augusta was clearly as unfavoured an origin or destination as it is today !!@#$
      Luci from Quorn

  4. David Way says:

    Heard this poem in the early seventies whist working in New Guinea at the power station build on Bouganville at Lolaho, the port facilitates, could only remember a couple of verses. Good to finally track down the lot. Old guy with a banjo knew the lot plus more bush ballards. Think his name was Bill, great entertainer around a fire.

  5. I’m a young fella, Baz. Heard a few bush poems but not the ones you just listed. Will be trying to look ’em up. Love the stuff. Thanks, mate.

  6. “Are you any good at billiards, can you cannon off the cush?”
    “I can cannon off the dunny door!”, said the Bastard from the Bush.

  7. “Been through the Isa ten times”
    “& none the fucken wiser, said the Bastard from the Bush”

  8. Kratoklastes says:

    I remember having a book of ‘bawdy verse’ when I was a tacker in the 70s – the Bastard from the Bush was in there with some slight variation – the fourth stanza ended with

    “would you have a moll to keep yer, and chuck in work for good?
    ‘Yes, my Oath!’ replied the Bastard,’Yes, my f*cken Oath I would!'”

    There was also “Charlotte the Harlot Lay Dying” (sung to the tune of “Bound for Botany Bay”) and one that I’ve never forgotten, but never seen since… it went like

    “A bloke told me before he died
    (I don’t know if the bastard lied)
    He had a wife he glorified
    But she could ne’er be satisfied

    [there might be a missing stanza here]

    So he fashioned her a tool of 10-inch steel
    Driven by a pulley and a bloody great wheel
    Two brass balls he filled with cream
    And the whole flamin’ issue was driven by steam

    Round and round went the bloody great wheel
    In and out went the tool of steel
    until in ecstasy she cried
    “Yes! Now, at last, I’m satisfied!”

    But this was the case of “the biter, bit”,
    From top to bottom she was split
    [can’t remember this line, for the life of me]
    And the whole flamin issue was covered in shit”

    There was also the limerick about the pretty maid from Aberystwyth, and dozens more that I didn’t commit to memory.

    I was about 8 when I read that book – I found it in the library of Tennant Creek Area School, just after we arrived in Australia in the early 70s (from NZ).

    Good times.

  9. Daddy Blues says:

    There once was a Vampire named Mable
    Whose periods were particularly unstable
    By the light of the moon & with the aid of a spoon
    She drank herself under the table

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