Isolates of Hyaloperonospora brassicae inoculated onto cotyledons of 28 diverse Brassicaceae genotypes, 13 from Brassica napus, two from B. juncea, five from B. oleracea, two from Eruca vesicaria, and one each from B. nigra, B. carinata, B. rapa, Crambe abyssinica, Raphanus sativus and R. raphanistrum, showed significant effects (P ≤ 0.001) of isolate, host and their interaction. Host responses ranged from no visible symptom or a hypersensitive response, to systemic spread and abundant pathogen sporulation. Isolates were generally most virulent on their host of origin. Using an octal classification, six host genotypes were identified as suitable host differentials to characterize pathotypes of H. brassicae and distinguished eight distinct pathotypes. There were fewer, but more virulent, pathotypes in 2015–2016 isolates than 2006–2008 pathogen populations, probably explaining the increase in severity of canola downy mildew over the past decade. Phylogenetic relationships determined across 20 H. brassicae isolates collected in 2006–2008 and 88 isolates collected in 2015–2016 showed seven distinct clades, with 70% of 2006–2008 isolates distributed within clade I (bootstrap value (BVs) of 100%) and the remaining 30% in clade V (BVs 83.3%). This is the first study to define phylogenetic relationships of H. brassicae isolates in Australia, setting a benchmark for understanding current and future genetic shifts within pathogen populations; it is also the first to use octal classification to characterize pathotypes of H. brassicae, providing a novel basis for standardizing phenotypic characterization and monitoring of pathotypes on B. napus and some crucifer species in Australia.