One of Australia's best-known satirists, John Clarke, has died at the age of 68.
An ABC spokesman has confirmed John Clarke passed away Sunday while hiking in the Grampians National Park in Victoria. He died from natural causes.
He was walking along a track near Mt Abrupt around 11am on Sunday when he collapsed.
The New Zealand-born comedian and writer regularly appeared on Australian television from the late 1970s onwards, starring in everything from Kath and Kim to The Lano and Woodly Show.
Along with Bryan Dawe, he wrote and performed satirical interviews on Channel Nine's A Current Affair and later the ABC's 7.30 program, mocking everyone from Paul Keating to George Bush.
Clarke was also a prolific writer, publishing numerous books in his lifetime - including A Dagg at my Table, The Howard Miracle and The 7.56 Report.
Tributes began to flow for the comedy legend on Monday morning, with comedian Wil Anderson describing him as "still the funniest satirist on TV".
Opposition leader Bill Shorten, meanwhile, has said Australian TV will "never be the same".
In a statement, Clarke's family said they were grateful for the expressions of sympathy pouring in from all over the world.
"John died doing one of the things he loved the most in the world, taking photos of birds in beautiful bushland with his wife and friends," the statement read. "He is forever in our hearts."
ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie praised Clarke for the way he tore down the "hypocrisy and at time absurdity" of Australian politics.
"We have lost a giant presence on our screens," she said in a statement. "Our hearts go to John's family, his wife Helen and two daughters, Lorin and Lucia."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Clark was more than a satirist and sent his condolences to Mr Clarke’s wife Helen and his children at this sad time.
“With the keenest eye and wit he understood the very essence of Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.
“He was not born here, of course, but over time he became one of us.
“His laconic wit was rarely wide of the mark. I should know. With lethal accuracy he made politicians and prime ministers his prey.”
Mr Turnbull said the Clarke and Dawe segment on Thursdays became required viewing as they highlighted the absurdity of political life.
“In this guise, John’s strength was the underperformance - that canny knack of saying just enough to hit the target, and no more,” Mr Turnbull said.
“In this sense, his satire served a noble purpose. It spoke truth to power. It made our democracy richer and stronger. It kept politicians on their toes.
“And best of all it made us laugh along the way. We’ll wait a long time to find another John Clarke. In fact, we never will.”
The early days
Born in Palmerston North, he studied at Victoria University before heading to London, where he gained a break through with a part in the 1972 Barry Humphries comedy The Adventures of Barry McKenzie.
Clarke came home a year later, and was in the cast of New Zealand's first sitcom, the student-flat comedy Buck House.
By then, Clarke had already pioneered his iconic character Fred Dagg in short TV sketches and a Country Calendar 'spoof' edition.
Dagg's instant success turned into TV specials and a short film, Dagg Day Afternoon (which Clarke made with Goodbye Pork Pie director Geoff Murphy), a nationwide tour, books, and even singles - most famously, We Don't Know How Lucky We Are. Fred Dagg's Greatest Hits remains one of New Zealand's best selling albums.
Clarke moved to Australia in 1977, and soon made an impact, particularly in a series of satirical interview slots with Australian writer Bryan Dawe which mocked major Australian politicians.
In his later career, Clarke worked as a writer and script editor on major Australian cinematic works, including The Man Who Sued God (2000) and Crackerjack (2002).
He was also behind The Games, a series which mocked the Sydney Olympics organising committee.
Clarke's company Huntaway Films, formed with Sam Neill, delivered TV movies based on the Murray Whelan novels written by Shane Maloney about a political spin doctor turned MP played by David Wenham.