Ellyse Perry's unbeaten half-century took Australia to 177-5 at stumps as the Women's Ashes Test remains delicately poised after day two.
England were earlier dismissed for 280 in their first innings but a wicket for Laura Marsh and two for left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, on debut, put the tourists on top and a fine catch from Sarah Taylor - stood up to the stumps - to remove Elyse Villani, strengthened their position.
However, Perry (70no) shared a fifth-wicket stand of 73 with captain Rachael Haynes to ease the pressure on the hosts and, with Australia trailing by 103, will be aiming to push on on day three and earn her side a first innings lead.
England began the day on 235-7 and the 55 runs they added could prove valuable in what is shaping up to be a very tight contest.
Anya Shrubsole made 20 but neither she nor Katherine Brunt were able to make a breakthrough with the new ball once Australia came out to bat.
Instead it fell to the spinners to make the initial inroads, Marsh (1-28) having Nicole Bolton caught by Shrubsole before Ecclestone (2-51) accounted for Bethany Mooney and Alex Blackwell.
Perry and Villani steadied things for Australia but England did a good job of stemming the flow of runs and were rewarded with a wicket.
Frustration got the better of Villani as she took a wild swing at a full-pitched Shrubsole (1-21) delivery, only to get a thin edge and look back to see Taylor taking a very smart catch behind the stumps.
Perry and Haynes rallied for the hosts and, while Brunt had the latter lbw with the second new ball late on, Australia will feel that with Perry still at the crease, they hold the slightest of advantages at the halfway stage of this Test.