Australia is an island nation and a primary producer of agricultural and horticultural products. There is a large diversity of plant biosecurity threats which could adversely impact on Australia's production and exports. Surveillance has traditionally been used to monitor pests and optimise production. Increasingly surveillance is being used for early detection of exotic incursions, demonstration of eradication of incursions and pest freedom from exotic or endemic pests. These newer uses of surveillance utilise general and specific surveillance: surveillance data is maintained in electronic databases. Specific surveillance is a targeted surveillance search used by industry or state regulators for a specific pest to support pest freedom or other trade standards. The plant biosecurity surveillance cycle shows the flow of surveillance operations. In this paper, this cycle is demonstrated by case studies including pre border and the northern Australian at-border surveillance for the Australian-Asian interface. Within Australia, the multiple plant pest surveillance program was established in most capital cities where there are high flows of population and produce. As an industry example, the cotton industry surveillance program, particularly for cotton leaf curl, demonstrates how plant biosecurity surveillance operates within an industry. Asiatic citrus canker is another example of industry pertinent surveillance. Finally, surveillance for the purpose of declaring pest freedom areas is reviewed using fruit flies and currant lettuce aphid as examples.