A sedate knock of 81 off 207 balls by Shaun Marsh [ Images ] held the Australian innings together as they struggled for runs throughout the rain-interrupted day.
Marsh's lengthy innings was ended in the final session by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath [ Images ], who bowled him with a straight delivery.
Marsh figured in two useful partnerships, of 79 with Ricky Ponting [ Images ] and 70 with Hussey.
The afternoon session was delayed by 40 minutes due to rain but it made no difference to the home bowlers, who managed to snare the key wickets of former captain Ponting for a well-compiled 48 and current skipper Michael Clarke [ Images ] for six.
Both batsmen fell to poor shots, chasing balls wide outside the off stump and edging catches behind the wicket to Prasanna Jayawardene [ Images ].
Suranga Lakmal picked Ponting's wicket at 101-3 while debutant Shaminda Eranga took his second wicket of the innings when he dismissed Clarke.
Marsh, who made a century on debut in the drawn second Test, anchored the innings and looked solid in defence and hit only the loose balls as he notched seven fours.
Australia lost an early wicket when Phil Hughes played onto a delivery from Lakmal and was dismissed without scoring in the second over.
Shane Watson [ Images ] became debutant Eranga's maiden Test victim when he chased a wide ball and hit it to backward point where Tillakaratne Dilshan [ Images ] held the catch. Watson scored eight as Australia lost their second wicket for just 22.
Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0.
Australia (1st innings):
S Watson c Dilshan b Eranga 8
P Hughes b Lakmal 0
S Marsh b Herath 81
R Ponting c P Jayawardene b Lakmal 48
M Clarke c P Jayawardene b Eranga 6
M Hussey not out 63
B Haddin not out 21
Extras: (lb-4, nb-3, w-1) 8
Total: (five wickets, 81.2 overs) 235
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-22, 3-101, 4-120, 5-190.
To bat: M Johnson, P Siddle, T Copeland, N Lyon.
Bowling: Welegedara 15-4-51-0, Lakmal 16.2-3-39-2 (nb-3), Eranga 18-5-52-2 (w-1), Herath 22-4-60-1, Dilshan 10-0-29-0.