A legend both on and off the screen, Australian icon Bill Hunter will be sorely missed.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has added to the flood of tributes, speaking of his enormous contribution to the nation, while actors have joined with fellow Australians sharing their sorrow over Hunter's passing on social networking site Twitter.
Hunter lost his battle with cancer surrounded by family and friends at a Melbourne hospice on Saturday night. He was 71.
The prime minister said Hunter had brought Australian characters to life, using his great talent in roles from Newsfront in 1978 to Strictly Ballroom and his most recent film Red Dog.
"Mr Hunter played a key role as an acclaimed actor in helping to define Australian culture over five decades on screen and on stage," Ms Gillard said on Sunday.
"He told us Australian stories in an Australian voice at a time when we were debating and developing our sense of national identity."
Ms Gillard extended her condolences to the actor's family and friends on behalf of all Australians.
Actor Russell Crowe thanked Hunter for the entertainment he provided over a career that spanned more than 50 years.
"Very sad to hear about Bill Hunter. Unique talent," Crowe said.
"I first met Bill in 1970 on the set of Spyforce. Thanks for the entertainment mate, RIP."
Actor Daniel McPherson tweeted: "RIP Bill Hunter. Legend of the Screen. Legend of a Man."
Broadcaster and comedian Adam Hills tweeted: "Saddened to hear of Bill Hunter's passing."
Hunter was a stalwart of the Australian film industry and his 100-plus movie and television credits read like a potted history of home-grown film and television.
Simon Wincer, who directed Hunter in The Cup last year, told the Herald Sun that Hunter "will certainly be very fondly remembered ... He has left his mark".
Hunter showed no sign of illness when The Cup was shot last year, Wincer said.
"He was his normal self," Wincer said.
"I will say Billy has lived life pretty hard, a smoker and drinker, a legend in that department, but that was one of his charms."
Hunter's ex-wife Rhoda Roberts said she believed his drinking habits were exaggerated, the Herald Sun reported.
"He did not drink that much ... He'd get a beer at lunchtime, but he would sit on that," Roberts said.
Comedian Geraldine Hickey tweeted: "Many bartenders across Melbourne will agree that he made the day shifts seem shorter and much brighter when he walked in".
State politicians were also paying tribute, with South Australian Premier Mike Rann tweeting: "Sad news about Bill Hunter's death. Such a great Aussie actor".
"Legend" was the most common word in the tweets, with "icon" not far behind.
One tweet suggested BHP should build a statue of him as he was so quintessentially Australian.
BHP Billiton said the company owed a lot to "one of Australia's great actors and the face of the original BHP `Big Australian' campaign"
"Bill Hunter was more than just a fine actor; he became for many an emblem for Australia and how it could stand confident in the world," CEO Marius Kloppers said in a statement on Sunday.
"His 'Big Australian' commercials for BHP opened the minds of a generation of Australians to the company's transformation into a resources group of truly global standing that has become BHP Billiton.
"We owe him a lot. What he said for BHP is remembered because of his presence, stature and directness."