A government-funded interferon-free direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment programme for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been available in Australia since March 2016. This study assessed the levels and patterns of DAA treatment uptake during March-December 2016 in Australia and described the key features in the development of the programme. All prescriptions in Australia are submitted to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme by dispensing pharmacies. Data on dispensed DAA prescriptions for a longitudinal cohort of individuals, representing a 10% random sample of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme database, were used for estimating DAA treatment uptake and subgroup analyses. The estimated number of 32 400 individuals initiated DAA treatment in 2016, equating to 14% of people with chronic HCV infection in Australia. Most commonly prescribed DAA regimens included sofosbuvir/ledipasvir (56%, n = 18 020), sofosbuvir + daclatasvir (39%, n = 12 600) and sofosbuvir + other agents (4%, n = 1220). Among individuals initiated DAA treatment, 66% (n = 21 430) were men, 43% (n = 13 870) were ≤50 years old and 36% (n = 11 670) had cirrhosis. DAA prescriptions were 62% (n = 20 080) by specialists, 19% (n = 6000) by general practitioners (GP) and 20% (n = 6320) by other physicians. Proportion of individuals prescribed DAA by GPs increased from 8% to 31% and proportion of individuals ≤50 years old increased from 28% to 61% between March and December. In conclusion, rapid treatment scale-up was observed in the first 10 months of unrestricted DAA programme in Australia. The proportion of prescriptions by GPs increased over time, important for broadened access. A trend towards younger age treatment suggested the broadening of DAA-treated population, potentially including individuals at higher risk of HCV transmission.