Australia's openers have survived through to stumps at 0-40 on day three still needing a further 592 for victory against South Africa in the third and final Test in Perth.
Australia will have two full days to chase down the total after the Proteas were dismissed for 569 in their second innings.
It will require a record run chase with the highest ever successful fourth innings chase the West Indies, when they made 7-418 against Australia in Antigua back in 2003.
Australia may take heart from the second highest run chase in Test history, which occurred on the WACA ground when South Africa chased 414 with six wickets in hand four years ago.
David Warner (29 not out) was the aggressor before stumps, while Ed Cowan (nine not out) played in his typically gritty mode.
The best and worst of Warner was on display after he started with two boundaries and then delivered a loose play and miss that was reminiscent of his first innings dismissal.
Cowan survived a big appeal for caught behind off Vernon Philander, which the South African's chose not to review with the replay suggesting he may have got the faintest of edges.
Philander had worked Cowan over and had him beaten twice in the over before the appeal.
Morne Morkel looked as though he may have seriously injured his ankle when he crashed to the turf after a delivery.
South African hearts were in their mouth momentarily as the physio came on to treat the tall quick, but he was able to get to his feet and complete the over.
Earlier in the day, South Africa amassed their total on the back of Hashim Amla's 196 and AB de Villiers' 169.
Amla and de Villiers combined for a 149-run partnership before de Villiers and Francois du Plessis had their own 102-run stand as the game got away from the Australians.
South Africa significantly upped the tempo after the tea break as they looked to move the game on.
Mitchell Starc (6-154) was the best of the Australia bowlers and claimed his first Test five-wicket haul.
Fellow left-armer Mitchell Johnson (4-110) the only other Australian bowler to take a wicket.
It was the ninth time in Test history that left-armers have combined to take all 10 wickets in an innings and the third occasion of players with the same first name doing so.
Shane Watson (0-24), John Hastings (0-102) and Nathan Lyon (0-128) all went wicketless.