Originally, Hunters & Collectors were influenced by Krautrock and productions of Conny Plank, featuring strong percussive influences, noisy guitar, and driving bass lines. Their sound was in the vein of the Talking Heads album, Remain in Light (1980). Hunters & Collectors utilised Plank to produce two of their early albums, The Fireman's Curse (1983) and The Jaws of Life (1984), but neither charted into the Top 50 of the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart.
Their first Top 10 album, Human Frailty (1986), also featured their logo, a H & C symbol, where the "&" consists of twin snakes entwined around a hunting knife, a variation of a caduceus. Later Top 10 studio albums were Ghost Nation (1989), Cut (1992), and Demon Flower (1994). Their hit singles were "Talking to a Stranger" (1982), "Throw Your Arms Around Me" (1984), "Say Goodbye" (1986), "When the River Runs Dry" (1989), "True Tears of Joy" (1992), and "Holy Grail" (1993). They became one of the best live acts in Australia and according to musicologist, Ian McFarlane, their "great achievement was to lay bare human emotions in the intensely ritualistic milieu of the pub-rock gig".