Liao ning virus (LNV) was first isolated in 1996 from mosquitoes in China, and has been shown to replicate in selected mammalian cell lines and to cause lethal haemorrhagic disease in experimentally infected mice. The first detection of LNV in Australia was by deep sequencing of mosquito homogenates. We subsequently isolated LNV from mosquitoes of four genera (Culex, Anopheles, Mansonia and Aedes) in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia; the earliest of these Australian isolates were obtained from mosquitoes collected in 1988, predating the first Chinese isolates. Genetic analysis revealed that the Australian LNV isolates formed two new genotypes: one including isolates from eastern and northern Australia, and the second comprising isolates from the south-western corner of the continent. In contrast to findings reported for the Chinese LNV isolates, the Australian LNV isolates did not replicate in vertebrate cells in vitro or in vivo, or produce signs of disease in wild-type or immunodeficient mice. A panel of human and animal sera collected from regions where the virus was found in high prevalence also showed no evidence of LNV-specific antibodies. Furthermore, high rates of virus detection in progeny reared from infected adult female mosquitoes, coupled with visualization of the virus within the ovarian follicles by immunohistochemistry, suggest that LNV is transmitted transovarially. Thus, despite relatively minor genomic differences between Chinese and Australian LNV strains, the latter display a characteristic insect-specific phenotype.