David Warner blazed Australia's third century in three days after fast bowler Mitchell Johnson took 7-68, giving the tourists complete control over South Africa in the first test on Friday (local time).
Warner's 115 off 151 balls with 13 fours and two sixes was almost as blisteringly quick as Johnson's bowling as Australia raced to 288-3 in its second innings at stumps on the third day for a huge lead of 479.
After Johnson ripped out the remains of South Africa to reduce the top-ranked team to 206 in its first innings, Warner and Alex Doolan (89) dominated with the bat in a 205-run partnership in the afternoon - Australia's second double-century stand of the game.
Doolan just missed out on a hundred on debut in the closest thing to disappointment for Australia in a dominating start to the series.
Warner was dropped three times - and twice in the 20s - to compound South Africa's problems as its fielding unraveled along with its bowling and batting.
After South Africa was 140-6 overnight, Johnson continued the carnage with three wickets in the morning to go with his four on the second day, with the home team rolled out for 206.
As he was on Thursday, Johnson was hostile as he removed Robin Peterson, AB de Villiers and last-man Morne Morkel. England's main destroyer in the Ashes with 37 wickets in five tests, Johnson lived up to that fierce reputation with seven wickets overall at Centurion from 17.1 brutal and at times unplayable overs.
De Villiers made 91 for South Africa's only major contribution as it added 66 on the day for the last four wickets.
Australia lost opener Chris Rogers to speedster Dale Steyn in the second over of its second innings to be 1-1 and 18-1 at lunch, but the tourists surged way ahead after that minor blip through Warner's and Doolan's punishing partnership.
Australia was in position to inflict on South Africa a second defeat at the Centurion ground in 18 tests, and the first since 2000.
Australia scored 397 batting first after being put in by South Africa captain Graeme Smith, with a career-best 148 from Shaun Marsh and 100 from Steve Smith.
In his second over on Friday, left-arm quick Johnson began with a lifting delivery to remove Robin Peterson, caught in the slips, for 10. He had De Villiers caught at mid-off by a jumping Warner, and was way too fast for tailender Morkel, who edged his first ball, a typically fierce short-pitched delivery, to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Offspinner Nathan Lyon returned 2-38 and Peter Siddle had 1-33 but the innings was all about Johnson.
Clearly Australia's fiercest weapon in the Ashes whitewash of England, Johnson at full speed was unreadable by the South Africans.
He removed Graeme Smith and Faf du Plessis to almost unplayable deliveries on Thursday and Peterson and Morkel were rocked by more of the short stuff on the third day. De Villiers stood alone and hit 10 fours and two sixes, with South Africa's next best score a 25 by JP Duminy.
Johnson's value was underlined as Warner and Doolan had little problem with South Africa's pace attack, smashing 25 fours and three sixes between them to lead by nearly 500 with seven wickets in hand and two days still to play.
Scoreboard at stumps on the third day of the first test between Australia and South Africa at SuperSport Park:
First innings 397
G SMITH c Marsh b Johnson 10 7 8 2 0
A PETERSEN c Haddin b Johnson 2 24 12 0 0
H AMLA lbw Siddle 17 50 42 2 0
F DU PLESSIS c Clarke b Johnson 3 7 5 0 0
AB de VILLIERS c Warner b Johnson 91 243 148 10 2
J DUMINY c Johnson b Lyon 25 78 48 1 1
R MCLAREN b Johnson 8 35 33 1 0
R PETERSON c Clarke b Johnson 10 30 23 2 0
V PHILANDER lbw Lyon 15 51 35 0 0
D STEYN not out 7 19 13 0 0
M MORKEL c Haddin b Johnson 0 6 1 0 0
Extras (14b 2lb 1w 1nb) 18
Fall: 11 (Smith), 15 (Petersen), 23 (du Plessis), 43 (Amla), 110 (Duminy), 126 (McLaren), 140 (Peterson), 189 (Philander), 202 (de Villiers), 206 (Morkel).
Bowling: R Harris 17-3-51-0, M Johnson 17.1-1-68-7 (1w), P Siddle 13-1-33-1 (1nb), N Lyon 14-0-38-2.
C ROGERS b Steyn 1
D WARNER c Smith b Peterson 115
A DOOLAN c de Villiers b Duminy 89
S MARSH not out 44
M CLARKE not out 17
Extras (3b 13lb 6w) 22
Total (for three wickets) 288
Fall: 1 (Rogers), 206 (Warner), 243 (Doolan).
Bowling: V Philander 11-2-28-0, D Steyn 13-2-60-1, R McLaren 11-0-47-0 (1w), M Morkel 11-2-38-0, R Peterson 19-0-87-1 (5w), J Duminy 4-0-12-1.