We have produced the first annually resolved, centennial-length tree-ring chronologies, based on tracheid radial diameter (TRD) and microfibril angle for south-eastern Australia (SEA) from what would commonly be considered a dendroclimatically suboptimal site. The chronologies exhibit a strong regional temperature signal for the austral summer (nominally November–April) that extends across much of SEA. The strength and spatial extent of the temperature–TRD correlations surpass those between the iconic Tasmanian Mt Read ring-width chronology and austral summer temperatures, and are more time-stable. We demonstrate that the value of wood property chronologies for their ability to improve the both the quality and the quantity of highly climate-sensitive series available for regional annual-resolution climate reconstructions, in data-sparse regions in Australasia and beyond, should be examined. In light of the ‘divergence debate’, the time-stability of relationships with climate, relative to other tree-ring proxies, also requires further investigation.