Only a solid 73 by captain Michael Clarke and a typically stubborn unbeaten 47 by veteran Mike Hussey all but ensured that the Aussies would avoid the follow-on.
Clarke was disappointed with his team's performance in the match so far.
"We have no excuses for not bowling and fielding as well as we would have liked day one, day two and certainly no excuses for being five down on that wicket today," he said.
However, he was still cofident the Australians could win the match.
Australia's Mike Hussey stood unbeaten on 47 against West Indies. Photo: AFP
"I think we're going to have to bowl better than what we did in the first innings and we're going to have to try to make as many runs as we can in this first innings to see how close we are to them.
"I certainly think we can still win the Test match from here."
His West Indian counterpart Darren Sammy was by contrast delighted with his team.
"The team played well. The bowlers supported each other," he said.
"We're quite happy with the way the day went."
Sammy snapped up the first wicket to fall as having added only one run to his overnight score of 13, Ed Cowan was drawn into a shot to a ball just outside off stump and edged through to the keeper.
Shane Watson, batting for the first time in a Test at number three, was fortunate to survive twice when he had scored five.
Sammy's persevering line just outside off stump worked again when David Warner, having scored 42 off 55 balls, played at a ball without much foot movement and Darren Bravo took the catch at second slip.
After the early scares Watson had settled but when he turned a Fidel Edwards delivery to fine leg he was looking for a second run which would have been tight.
After running the first Ricky Ponting hadn't moved as Kraigg Brathwaite pounced on the ball and threw in one movement.
There was so much confusion between the two batsmen that Ponting was given out without a referral being necessary.
Devendra Bishoo's leg breaks were causing few problems but in the 36th over one stayed low and Clarke, on 21, cut at the ball prompting the West Indies to appeal for a catch behind.
Umpire Tony Hill gave it out but Clarke immediately called for the DRS.
There was quite a bit of surprise when TV Umpire Marais Erasmus over-turned the on-field decision as there didn't appear to be conclusive evidence in favour of Clarke.
The second ball after lunch, Watson played a loose drive at a Roach delivery outside off stump and got a thick edge through to Carlton Baugh.
The dismissal put the West Indies firmly in charge with Australia 133-4.
The West Indies knew how important Clarke's wicket would be and when Kemar Roach struck his pad when he'd scored 31 they were quick to use the review system.
It was a poor move as the ball was clearly missing the stumps and the home side had used both of their reviews.
Hussey was playing the perfect support role for Clarke.
By the time tea came Clarke and Hussey had batted through virtually the whole session and their unbeaten 67 run partnership for the fifth wicket was pulling Australia clear of a precarious situation.
West Indies mainly used the spin of Devendra Bishoo and Narsingh Deonarine and they combined to take the all important wicket of the Australian captain.
Clarke suddenly came down the wicket to Bishoo and he continued to go through with a shot in the air to long on despite not quite getting to the pitch of the ball - Deonarine came in off the boundary and caught the ball against his chest.