Green’s Dictionary of Slang

barney’s bull n.

[? long-lost anecdotal ref.; Partridge suggests poss. corruption of Boanerges]

a worthless person or thing.

[UK]C. Harris Three-Ha’Pence to the Angel 207: Foreigners, the ’ole lot of yer are nothing but Barney’s Bulls. Trouble, that’s all you are, always trouble.

In phrases

all behind like Barney’s bull [pun] (Aus./N.Z.)

1. late, delayed.

[Aus]Mudgee Guardian (NSW) 16 July 18/3: Now, during my lifetime I have heard some very strange sayings, and the one that I am going to quote is one of them, and here it is: ‘All behind like Barney's bull’.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 24 Feb. 7/5: A weirdly woeful wail ascends toward the Heavens whenever A. E. Johnston [...] lifts up his voice, in an attempt to sing. When A.E. essays to follow the music, however, he’s like Barney's Bull.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 10 Jan. 3/3: Half-a-furlong from the post, Barney O’Hay was like Barney’s bull, and it was only by the proverbial whisker that he sneaked into third place.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 88: Of additional similes peculiarly our own, the following are among the best: [...] all behind like Barney’s bull, delayed, backward (a play on the word behind, although the expression is probably as alliterative as it is biological).
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 20 June 6/2: They have been mystified by such intensively Australian bon mots as [...] ‘All behind like Barney’s Bull’ .

2. overweight.

[Aus]A. Chipper Aussie Swearers Guide 52: Short of a Gallop. Mild descriptive phrase [for] overplump or out of condition. A more unkind expression is all behind like Barney’s bull.
as dead as Barney’s bull(s)

completely worthless.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 26/2: Sold — as dead as Barney’s bulls — the little curse has ‘namased’ after ‘kidding’ me out of my ‘super’.
[Aus]West Australian (Perth) 1 May3/4: Mr Wray’s theory shares the same fate as Barney’s bull.
: He did not want charity, only justice. If he and Miss Inglis had been like Mr Serpell over the business the council would have been like Barney’s bull.
[Aus]Queenslander (Brisbane) 25 Dec. 32/4: If I had told my lad to hitch up and plant it [i.e. bad maize seed] I should have been like Barney’s bull at the close of next season.
like barney’s bull

1. (Aus./N.Z.) exhausted, tired out; brought to a halt.

[Aus]North. Star (Lismore, NSW) 22 Aug. 2/5: Here we are like Barney's bull, stuck in a creek and no way to get out.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 12 Aug. 6/5: The latter floored Barney repeatedly, and it looked as if he, like Barney’s bull, was completely busted. But he came up for more stoush and weathered the storm.
[Aus]North. Star (Lismore, NSW) 7 Apr. 2/4: He’s like Barney’s bull [...] in a bit of a fog.
[Aus]Dubbo Liberal (NSW) 25 June 4/1: Like Barney’s Bull. W. P. Pettiford notified that his bicycle required new tyres and tubes, also a new rear wheel sprocket.

2. (Aus.) energetically.

[Aus]Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas.) 3 June 4/3: And, ot coarse, the chair was jumping up and down like Barney’s bull,.
[Aus]Bathurst Times (NSW) 28 Nov. 2/1: With the Labor Party bellowing like Barney’s bull foi the nationalisation of all Aus'ialian industries [etc].
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 7 Apr. 6/1: Instantly the human fog-horns bellowed like Barney's bulls, and used enough gas to have stripped Joe of his avoirdupois in no time.
[Aus]Sun (Sydney) 21 July 50/6: Night black as pitch. Blowing like Barney’s bull, with a dead drunk or doped crow.
[Aus]Wingham Chron. (NSW) 20 Feb. 2/4: 'The croc can roar like Barney’s bull — So far, he’s done us brown.

3. for certain.

[UK]V. Palmer Passage 59: By hell, we’ve got ’em. Trapped like Barney’s bull!