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I just heard the news John Clarke has passed away.

The man who immortalised Fred Dagg has died.

Actor and satirist John Clarke, 68, died of natural causes on Sunday while walking in the Grampians National Park in Victoria.

He was walking along a track at about 11am when he collapsed.

The Palmerston North-born comedian moved to Australia in 1977, but is known to a generation of Kiwis for his portrayal of farmer Fred Dagg in cinemas and in music.

He toured the country after releasing books and singles on Fred Dagg, to huge success.

Clad in gumboots and a black singlet, Clarke played Fred Dagg with such conviction that many New Zealanders thought he was real.

Clarke authored 25 books, was the voice of Wal Footrot in the Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale and appeared in a number of movies and television shows in both New Zealand and Australia.

His move to Melbourne came about after a run-in with the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, which he said was too conservative.

Along with Bryan Dawe, he became a household name after writing and performing satirical interviews on Channel Nine's A Current Affair and later the ABC's 7.30 programme.

Clarke wrote and starred in The Games, a mockumentary series of Australia's hosting of the Olympic Games in 2000, and also had a role in Kath and Kim.

He was nominated for an Australian Film Institute award for co-writing film Lonely Hearts and in 2008 was inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame.

Clarke collaborated with some of the country's leading performers, including Geoffrey Rush, Andrew Denton, Sam Neill and Gina Riley.

Politicians and both New Zealand's national museum Te Papa and the National Library of Australia have tweeted tributes to Clarke.

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