Eastern Fortescue, Centropogon australis (White 1790)

Other Names: Fortesque, Fortie, Southern Bullrout, Southern Fortesque

An Eastern Fortescue, Centropogon australis, at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A small cream to brown scorpionfish with dark irregular bars on the head and along the sides, small scales covering the body, 16 dorsal fin spines and a large spine on each side of the snout that can be projected forward. The species has a broad naked area from the nape to below the anterior part of the spinous dorsal fin. 
The fin spines are venomous and may inflict a very painful sting.

Video of Fortescues at Bawley Point, New South Wales.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Centropogon australis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Oct 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3207

Eastern Fortescue, Centropogon australis (White 1790)

More Info


Eastern and southern Australia from about Fraser Island, Queensland, to the Powlett River estuary, Victoria.
Inhabits sand and seagrass areas in coastal bays and estuaries.


Dorsal fin XIII, 6–8; Anal fin III, 5; Caudal fin 10–12; Pectoral fin 21–24; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral-line scales 28–33; Gill rakers 3–4 + 8–9 = 11–14.
Nasal bone on each side with 2–3 spines; supraocular ridge with 8–13 separate, well developed spines; interorbital relatively deep, depth 1.7–2.2 times in width. Scales ctenoid; broad naked area above the lateral line from the top rear of the head to below the spinous dorsal fin.


Fortescues are sometimes seen resting motionless on sandy bottoms in large numbers.

Similar Species

The Western Fortescue, Centropogon latifrons, differs in having a deeper interorbit and occipital pit, a smaller and rounder mouth, and a narrow chevron-shaped brown band on the caudal-fin base.
The Marbled Fortescue, Centropogon marmoratus, differs in having the jaw of moderate length, 15-19% SL (versus 10-15% in C. australis), relatively weak interorbital ridges, a marbled pattern on the head and body, and having a narrow naked below the spinous dorsal fin.

Species Citation

Cottus australis White 1790, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales: 266. Type locality: between Botany Bay and Broken Bay, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Eastern Fortescue, Centropogon australis (White 1790)


Bell, J.D., Burchmore, J.J. & Pollard, D.A. 1978. Feeding ecology of a scorpaenid fish, the fortescue, Centropogon australis, from a Posidonia seagrass habitat in New South Wales. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 29: 175–184 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF9780175

Bleeker, P 1876. Mémoire sur les espèces insulindiennes de la famille des Scorpénoïdes. Verslagen en Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen (Afdeeling Natuurjunde). Amsterdam 16: 1-100 pls 1-5 (as Apistus australis)

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. 

De Vis, C.W. 1884. New fishes in the Queensland Museum. No. 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(3): 453-462 (described as as Tetraroge hamiltoni, type locality Moreton Bay and Tweed River, Australia) See ref at BHL

Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. 544 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. 

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762 See ref at BHL

Johnson, J.W. & Motomura, H. 2008. Family Tetrarogidae. pp. 498-501 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. 

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Poss, S.G. 1994. Family Tetrarogidae, in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. 992 pp.

Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp. 

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1824. Chapter 8. Poissons. 183-328 pls 43-65 in Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.) Voyage autour du Monde, entrepris par ordre du Roi, exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 712 pp. 96 pls. (described as Scorpaena jacksoniana) See ref at BHL

Underhill, D. 2010. Australia's Dangerous Creatures. Reader's Digest. 368 pp.

White, J. 1790. Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non-descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions. London : Debrett 299 pp. 65 pls. See ref at BHL

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287048

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-30 m

Habitat:Bays, estuaries

Max Size:14 cm


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