Pollen spectra from the pre-European settlement phase in 73 pollen diagrams from mainland southeastern Australia are compared with fossil spectra from critical past periods in the Northwest Crater pollen record that covers at least the last 18,000 years. Previous interpretations of the fossil record are refined on the basis of individual recent spectrum analogues or best matches and on recent spectrum groups determined by numerical classification. It is found that spectrum matches generally increase through time as modern vegetation associations develop. In line with a number of studies in other parts of the world, true analogues are not apparent until the early-mid Holocene. Although providing useful insights into vegetation composition and climate, particularly seasonal climatic variation, the limited data base, lack of statistical manipulation of the data and the general homogeneity of the vegetation have inhibited, at this stage, the production of realistic quantitative climatic estimates.