On his debut for Red Bull, the Australian had a relatively untroubled run to second place in his home grand prix.
While the gap to the race-winning Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was a substantial 24.5 seconds, Ricciardo said he was happy just to have made it to the end of the race, a prospect that seemed unlikely during pre-season testing.
"If I look back at where we were three weeks ago, we had never done a race distance up until today, so I didn't have much confidence to see chequered flag or see a podium position," he said.
Australian Grand Prix report
"[The team] worked so hard over the winter and clawed back a massive margin. We still don't have the pace of Mercedes, but it is a result we will definitely take today and make a lot of progress from here.
"I'm pretty happy, it's a bit overwhelming for now."
Ricciardo added that the support from the Australian fans played its part across the weekend.
"It has been a crazy amount - the support for F1 in general, they have been behind this event. Drivers rock up at the circuit and everybody wants autographs. And it's a bit more for me being the only Aussie on the grid.
"It has been more than I could have possibly expected, and at times a bit embarrassing, but cool and very positive."
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