Long wait: Sophie Mirabella, who has fallen behind in Indi, must now rely on a strong postal vote.

Long wait: Sophie Mirabella, who has fallen behind in Indi, must now rely on a strong postal vote. Photo: Ben Eyles

Coalition frontbencher Sophie Mirabella has fallen behind her independent challenger in the Victorian seat of Indi and must rely on support from some 8200 postal votes to rescue her position.

The heavily backed independent candidate, Cathy McGowan, is now leading her Liberal rival in preliminary counting by a margin of 1754 votes. Although it is a strong early lead, only 51 per cent of the vote had been counted by mid-afternoon on Monday, and the postal votes are expected to favour Mrs Mirabella.

Mrs Mirabella is a 12-year veteran in federal Parliament and considered a tough political warrior, but Ms McGowan's strong local support seriously threatens her immediate political career.

Polling booth figures show that Ms McGowan performed strongly in booths in Wangaratta and Wodonga.

The Coalition also moved ahead in the NSW seats of Reid and Eden-Monaro, and the Brisbane seat of Petrie, and is on track to take all three from Labor. Other than Fairfax and Indi, three other seats - McEwen, Barton and Capricornia - remain in doubt.