Hyperlocal news about Melbourne's first suburb: Fitzroy 3065

Fitzroy history – the phantom army on Queens Parade


This is another fascinating piece of social history from The Argus, Monday 19 April 1926, p12 about the ‘pushes’ and their role in causing disorder on the streets of Fitzroy. I’m preparing a post specifically on the pushes, and I’m still coming to terms with the exact meaning of the word. A ‘push’ sounds like a simple street gang involved in drinking, fighting and random mayhem, but there’s more to it than that. On this occasion, they had the Police baffled.



  1. Enjoyed that one, looking forward to your article on the Fitzroy pushes (that bad grammar grates lol) !

  2. The term “Push” has a fairly long history in Australia – . I’m not sure whether it is any way connected to the European “Putsch”

    • Hi John, I know the 20th century meaning, and I am trying to find how it is really connected to the 19th century meaning. The Sydney-centric focus of the article you link to doesn’t tell the whole story. The Melbourne use of the term ‘push’ to describe street gangs seems to date back to the 1880s, and I’m not sure whether it originated in either colony or was adopted from elsewhere.

      Both colonies were experiencing the same problems at the same time: massive population growth, urbanisation and industrialisation, high unemployment, housing shortages, overcrowding in slum areas like The Rocks and Fitzroy, and the inevitable crime created by those circumstances.

      We know the push as an intellectual movement in Sydney in the 1950s and 1960s but the use of the term in Melbourne seems to have evolved to make a link between street gangs and university students during the 1930s, when the original street gang pushes seemed to be declining. I need to do some more research before I am ready to publish my ideas.

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