The Wallabies held on grimly to deny Argentina their first win in the Rugby Championship, edging home 32-25 on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Australia looked set for a convincing win with a 29-13 lead and 20 minutes left, but the Pumas stormed back with two late tries to have the home side clinging on inside their own quarter.
The Pumas had a scrum metres out from the try-line in the final moments but conceded a penalty to get the Wallabies home for their second win in the four-nation southern hemisphere series.
Yet again Argentina came desperately close to winning their first Test in the Rugby Championship after going down 33-31 to the Springboks in Salta last month.
Argentina have had an unforgiving introduction to the series and they have yet to win in 16 Tests over three seasons against southern hemisphere powerhouses New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
The Pumas looked set to draw level with minutes left when replacement scrum-half Tomas Cubelli made a break, but dummied rather then passing and the try chance went begging.
Cubelli then compounded his error by knocking on at the base of a maul with the Wallaby defence fully stretched.
It was the same story on the Gold Coast two years ago, up 19-9 with 20 minutes to go before losing 23-19, while Argentina failed to convert forward dominance in driving rain last season in Perth, when Australia held on to win 14-13.
Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper scored in the opening two minutes after he was put into the clear by Bernard Foley`s pass.
But the Pumas responded with a sensational try by winger Manuel Montero five minutes later.
The long-striding Montero beat off the tackles of Peter Betham, Hooper and Foley to score a brilliant 55-metre try and Nicolas Sanchez`s conversion put the Argentines in front.
The Australian pack was doing well in the scrums and lineouts and the home side enjoyed plenty of possession and territory in the opening half.
Foley bombed a certain try when he went to ground with the ball, with winger Rob Horne unmarked outside him with the try-line beckoning.
The Wallabies lost another try-scoring opportunity moments later and relied on Foley to kick them to a 14-7 lead at halftime with three penalties.
The Wallabies seized control of the match minutes after halftime when Hooper scored his second try off sloppy handling by the Pumas.
Israel Folau put through a little kick over the defence and Montero fumbled the ball for Hooper to pounce on it and brushed aside Mariano Galarza`s tackle to stroll over and give the Australians a 21-7 lead.
The Wallabies went forward 29-13, heading into the final quarter of the match when scrum-half Nick Phipps darted through and his long pass put winger Peter Betham over for his first Test try in the corner.
The dogged Pumas refused to give and two tries got them within four points with nine minutes left.
Centre Marcelo Bosch crossed wide out with 16 minutes left and fullback Joaquin Tuculet raced through to score off Sanchez`s well-weighted grubber kick inside the final 10 minutes.
Foley kicked his fifth penalty with six minutes left to give the Wallabies some valuable breathing space as the Pumas went after the win.