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The New Zealand-born comedian and writer was famous in Australia for sending up politicians and conducting mock interviews in a television career spanning almost 30 years.
Among his many hits, Clarke wrote an award-winning mockumentary, The Games, about planning Sydney's 2000 Olympics.
He died on Sunday aged 68 while hiking in a national park in the state of Victoria, his family said.
"John died doing one of the things he loved the most in the world, taking photos of birds in beautiful bushland with his wife and friends," they said in a statement.
"He is forever in our hearts."
In his early career in New Zealand, Clarke was known for the TV series Fred Dagg - a satirical take on being a country bloke.
After moving to Australia, he starred in popular local shows including Kath and Kim and The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, as well as writing books, films and musicals.
But Clarke was perhaps best known for skewering politicians alongside his comedy partner, Bryan Dawe, in a weekly television segment.
'Sharpest wit'Clarke's death prompted tributes from colleagues, fellow comedians and even politicians he had satirised.
"We'll wait a long time to find another John Clarke. In fact, we never will," tweeted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English wrote: "His humour captured the experience of life in NZ and Australia."