Meeke continued to impress in the event set to decide his World Rally Championship future and was runaway points leader Ogier's closest rival for most of the loop.
Hirvonen raised his game through the morning as well, and was only half a second down on Ogier's flying Volkswagen on the 24-kilometre Newry stage.
With Meeke having a scare with a big rock on the same stage, Hirvonen closed to within 0.2 seconds of his temporary team-mate, while Ogier is nine seconds clear of the Citroens up front.
M-Sport Ford's lead driver Thierry Neuville admitted to feeling "lost" on his Rally Australia debut.
He still holds fourth at present, 25.6s off the lead but ahead of team-mate Mads Ostberg.
Jari-Matti Latvala's rally is so far proving as tough as he predicted.
A spin on the Tuckers Nob stage that opened the morning means the VW driver is back in eighth behind team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and M-Sport's Evgeny Novikov.
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