Holger Osieck's side needed a late winner to sneak past the War Elephants, who had stunned the home crowd after going ahead after quarter of an hour
Australia have started their 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign with an unconvincing comeback 2-1 victory over Thailand at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday.
Holger Osieck's side needed an 86th-minute winner from substitute Alex Brosque to claim the win, which was expected to have been achieved much more comfortably against an opponent ranked 98 places below them.
Australia started the game well in control, with Tim Cahill having a seventh-minute header cleared off the line by Thailand's Jakkraphan Kaewprom.
The Socceroos continued to probe Thailand's defence with a series of long diagonal balls, before the visitors pounced on a Neil Kilkenny error in midfield for a shock opener on 15 minutes.
Kaewprom raced down the left flank before delivering a pinpoint cross for one-time QPR target Teerasil Dangba who volleyed the ball home with a classy finish.
The goal stunned the home crowd but the Socceroos continued to persist with their long balls, as Brett Holman fired at Thai keeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool after a goalmouth scramble on 24 minutes, while Cahill fired over minutes after.
Australia began to create better chances as the half wore on, with Cahill having their best opportunity of the opening stanza when he ghosted into the box after Josh Kennedy's flick, but his shot was saved.
The Socceroos began the second-half with real intent, with Kennedy getting in behind the Thai defence before Cahill glanced a header wide of the target.
Thailand defender Niweat Siriwong then produced a superb tackle to deny Kennedy a clear goalscoring chance from close range on 55 minutes after Brett Holman's cutback, as the pressure mounted.
Three minutes later Australia were level when local boy Matt McKay worked a neat one-two with Kilkenny before unleashing a shot which Hathairattanakool couldn't hold allowing Kennedy to tap home from close range.
Cahill had the ball in the back of the net on 62 minutes after outjumping Hathairattanakool at a corner, but the goal was disallowed by the referee, while the Everton man went close twice soon after.
Luke Wilkshire saw a free-kick tipped over on 72 minutes, while substitute Robbie Kruse shot over two minutes later as the Socceroos searched for a winner.
On 86 minutes, finally the decisive goal came for Australia when McKay's left-wing cross fell invitingly for substitute Brosque, who lashed the loose ball home on his preferred left foot.