The Australian Bass can be recognized by a combination of characters including an evenly arched dorsal profile, a snout that is straight or slightly concave and a forked caudal fin. It has a protruding lower jaw, moderately large eyes and a notch between the spiny first dorsal fin and the soft-rayed second dorsal fin.
This species is dark olive-green or greyish on the back and sides with darker scale margins. The belly is silvery or whitish, and the fins are mostly dusky brown to black. The tips of the anal and pelvic fins are white. Juvenile fish under 12cm long are banded and have a dark blotch on the gill cover.