After leg-spinner Ryan Burl (5-10) played a starring role in dismissing the hosts for a lowly 141, Zimbabwe overcame a wobbly chase to beat the cricket powerhouse for the first time in Australia when they hauled in the target in the 39th over, triggering scenes of celebration.
It was a consolation victory for Zimbabwe to conclude the three-match series.
“We showed a whole lot of fight it was a testament to the work the boys put in,” said Zimbabwe skipper Regis Chakabva, who top-scored with a composed 37 not out.
The tourists started the chase impressively, with Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Tadiwanashe Marumani posting a 38-run opening stand.
But Australia quick Josh Hazlewood turned the game on its head with the wicket of Kaitano (19) in the ninth over, and soon after dismissed Wessly Madhevere and Sean Williams on consecutive deliveries.
A nervous Zimbabwe, seeking just their third victory against Australia from 32 ODIs, batted defensively and slumped to 77-5 after Murumani (35) fell to towering all-rounder Cameron Green.
Chakabva calmed the nerves and was joined by an inspired Burl, who hit a six off player-of-the-series Adam Zampa to get Zimbabwe within sight of a famous victory.
“You turn up to international sport and you can get beaten on any day, and we saw that today,” said Australia captain Aaron Finch.