Captain Ricky Ponting admitted he thought he had cost Australia the game after being caught behind with 24 balls remaining in the Old Trafford Test.
Ponting made a brilliant 156 but had to watch final pair Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath hold on for the last four overs to secure the draw.
Ponting said: "I worked really hard but I thought I'd cocked it up at the end.
"It was a big game in the series and it was a big result for us after being out-played in the first few days."
McGrath and Lee held on against Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison to deny England what seemed like a certain victory and keep the five-match series level at 1-1.
Ponting said: "Brett and Glenn showed a lot of character to get us through.
"It's a bit of relief, I guess. We knew if we applied ourselves during the day we had a good chance of hanging in there and saving the game.
"There was a lot of finger-crossing in the dressing-room but we're alive in the series and ready for the next one."
Last-gasp hero Lee was delighted to have survived the last onslaught, particularly having taken Australia so close to an unlikely win at Edgbaston.
He said: "It's been very nerve-wracking - I'm not sure if I can keep going through this sort of thing.
"There's been so much going on in the last two Tests. It just went our way on this occasion - we were pretty happy to get away with a draw.
"But I've been working hard (on my batting) and I've been on at Ricky to move me up the order."
The series now moves on to Trent Bridge with Australia facing some tricky selection dilemmas.
Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist are still struggling for form with the bat and Jason Gillespie's three wickets in the series so far have come at a cost of 100 runs each.
But it would represent a big gamble by the selectors to thrust uncapped Brad Hodge and Shaun Tait into the side with the series so finaely poised.
"We need to find a way of bowling out England cheaper and scoring a few more runs," Lee added.