In this paper we test previous claims concerning the universality of patterns of polysemy and semantic change in perception verbs. Implicit in such claims are two elements: firstly, that the sharing of two related senses A and B by a given form is cross-linguistically widespread, and matched by a complementary lack of some rival polysemy, and secondly that the explanation for the ubiquity of a given pattern of polysemy is ultimately rooted in our shared human cognitive make-up. However, in comparison to the vigorous testing of claimed universals that has occurred in phonology, syntax and even basic lexical meaning, there has been little attempt to test proposed universals of semantic extension against a detailed areal study of non-European languages. To address this problem we examine a broad range of Australian languages to evaluate two hypothesized universals: one by Viberg (1984), concerning patterns of semantic extension across sensory modalities within the domain of perception verbs (i .e. intra-field extensions), and the other by Sweetser (1990), concerning the mapping of perception to cognition (i.e. trans-field extensions). Testing against the Australian data allows one claimed universal to survive, but demolishes the other, even though both assign primacy to vision among the senses.