Simon Katich led the way with a gritty 83 as Australia recovered from 15 for 3 to reach 341 for 9 on day one of the first cricket Test against South Africa in Perth.
Seeking their first series win in Australia, the No.2-ranked South Africans put the early pressure on the world champions but Michael Clarke (62), Andrew Symonds (57) and Brad Haddin (46) all played key roles in Australia's resurgence.
However, all three will be cursing their missed opportunities on a WACA pitch offering some assistance to the quicks.
Makhaya Ntini took 3 for 66 while Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and spinner Paul Harris claimed two wickets each.
Australia's Ricky Ponting won the toss but South Africa dominated the opening 30 minutes, shocking the crowd of 13,679.
Ntini dismissed Matthew Hayden for 12 and the skipper for a duck, both caught in slips off consecutive balls in the third over.
Steyn -- the bowler the Perth crowd had come to see -- grabbed his 61st victim of 2008 when he had Mike Hussey caught at third slip for a duck by a diving AB De Villiers.