SOME of the safest seats in the country have been turned into marginal battlegrounds, with independent candidates creating massive swings against sitting Coalition MPs.
Although much of the attention has been on successful inner-city 'teal' independents, political pundits have suggested the regions could be on the verge of their own teal wave, after several candidates fell agonisingly short of a miracle victory.
In rural Victoria, Rob Priestly turned Nicholls - among the nation's safest seats - marginal, after capturing 45.95 per cent of the vote in a tightly-run contest with the Nationals.
The party previously commanded 70 per cent of the two-party preferred vote but saw one of the largest negative swings in the country, with Mr Priestly eroding the margin by almost 16pc.
Mr Priestly said it was unlikely he'd run again, but the momentum was there for a future independent candidate.
"Whoever it is, and it probably won't be me, someone will be there, and the community has seen what it's like to have a competitive election - and that's only good for the community," Mr Priestly said.
Fellow rural Victorian independent Alex Dyson pushed the safe Liberal seat of Wannon into marginal territory.
In his second time contesting the seat, the former Triple J radio host reaped almost 20pc of the primary vote, but strong preference flow saw Mr Dyson finish with 46pc of the 2PP vote.
Former Trade Minister Dan Tehan had his margin eroded by almost 6.5pc and held Wannon by less than 4pc.
Mr Dyson didn't rule out running again, but it would depend on the issues of the time and the performance of the sitting MP.
"I'm looking forward to a lot more focus on the seat, which is now more marginal than our eastern neighbour Corangamite, which has consistently received tens-of-million of dollars more in grants," Mr Dyson said.
"Regional Australians are realising the power of their vote, and they're showing that good effort is rewarded while bad effort isn't tolerated."
Former New England independent and political heavyweight Tony Windsor said the bush could be on the verge of its own teal wave if the new government didn't acknowledge the one-third of people who didn't vote for a major party.
"It's taken a while, but people are beginning to see the sky doesn't cave in if you elect an independent or minor party," Mr Windsor said.
"Country people may never be a majority in the political sense, but they are potentially the biggest majority in town who can determine who is in power."
In the NSW mid-north coast seat of Cowper, the vote was so close it was among the last to be called. Independent Caz Heise finished with 47.68pc of the vote, creating a 9.56pc swing against Nationals MP Pat Conaghan, who held the seat just over 2pc.
In regional Queensland, LNP MP Garth Hamilton recorded a double digit (10.3pc) swing against him, after a strong campaign by independent Suzie Holt, who received 43.11pc.
The seat is on the verge of marginal, with Mr Hamilton holding the seat by 6.89pc.
Ms Holt said the result felt "like a real win for the community".
"Our campaign was driven by the community and focused on the specific concerns of our region... what this result shows is that a tailored approach is what our electorate wants," Ms Holt said.
Australian National University political science emeritus professor John Warhurst said it would be a mistake to just focus on the independents who won, and the second-tier of independents who made their seats marginal were the "hidden element of the election".
"They won't go away and it's quite a thing to make these seats more marginal," Prof Warhurst said.
"It shows how those independents could do what Labor could never do in these [rural] seats."
Prof Warhurst said along with the marginal seats benefitting from more government attention and resources, the close results could transform the local political landscape, as future independents know they would be supported.
"They know it can be done now and that will generate much more energy," he said.
A number of rural independents polled third in their electorates, including Hume (NSW), Mallee (Vic), Hinkler (QLD) and Grey (SA).