With all of Saturday's play lost to rain, Sunday's morning session was delayed by just 30 minutes as the last of the standing water was cleared away and Chris Woakes fell for 25 just before noon.
England had started their innings on Friday with an approach that suggested they were happy to bat out for a draw having already secured the series but, resuming on 247 for four, Ian Bell and Woakes started to play some shots.
Bell, with three centuries to his name already in the series, stuck two early boundaries with Woakes also adding a four after playing a shot high off the bat.
That effort was too high for a catch to be taken at slip but England's debutant was not as lucky in the next over as he pushed at a delivery from Ryan Harris and edged an easy catch to Michael Clarke, leaving the hosts on 269 for five.
Australia had declared on 492 for nine in their first innings but England's pedestrian pace on Friday, coupled with the day four washout, meant they were facing an uphill battle to record their first win of the series.
Matt Prior came to the crease and eased in to the game with consecutive fours as England passed the follow-on target with five wickets in hand.
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