Until 1980, Tharunka was a weekly newspaper, switching to a fortnightly magazine format from 1981. In 2004 and 2005, Tharunka returned to a tabloid newspaper format. From 2005 publication became less frequent, and in 2006, Tharunka returned to a magazine format.
Tharunka was published by the UNSW Students Union from 1953 until 1992, when that body was replaced by the University of New South Wales Student Guild. The Guild published Tharunka from 1993 until 2006, before the organisation was scrapped. A new student organisation, Arc @ UNSW Limited, took over publication of Tharunka from 2007.
Tharunka is managed by a small staff and a wider group of volunteers. Including staff wages, the publication's budget is under $100,000 per year.
The content of Tharunka varies year to year in line with the priorities of student politicians, the editors and the wider contributor base. Tharunka's at times irreverant approach has seen copies seized by police, destroyed by political opponents and censored by the student organisation.
It is traditional for a parody edition of Tharunka to be released as part of the university's annual Foundation Day celebrations. News satire is a regular feature of the publication.
As the journal of a political organisation, Tharunka's editorial direction is often influenced by the dominant faction within the student body at the time. Where the editors have distanced themselves from the agenda of student representatives, conflict has been the result. A plan by then editor Michael Shane to devote an issue to coverage of issues facing men was met with fierce resistance by the Student Guild's governing council in 2000. Rules were enacted to give the Guild women's department a right of veto over content.
In November 2004, the Guild was attacked by Daily Telegraph columnist Michael Duffy for attempting to prevent the expression of support for voluntary student unionism at UNSW. "Student politics is still notoriously corrupt and secretive," Duffy wrote, reporting that "the editors of the student union magazine Tharunka, have been told by the Guild Council ... not to publish articles in support of voluntary unionism.
|1975||21||28||Newspaper||Vicki Wootten and Brian Robins||Student Union|
|1976||22||28||Newspaper||Women's Weekly (Women's Weekly)||Steven Raper, Bradley Wynne, Olga Prokopvich and Geoff Turnbull||Student Union|
|1978||24||28||Newspaper||Benthouse (Penthouse)||Juliette Sterne, Colin Israel and Gary Ross||Student Union|
|1979||25||28||Newspaper||Kids' Stuff||Bruce Bradbury, Nicolette Dillon, Maryella Hatfield, Jeff Holten, Graeme Tubbenhauer||Student Union|
|1980||26||27||Newspaper||Teresa Music, Bob Sheil, Bill McMahon and Stewart Lehr||Student Union|
|1981||27||14||Magazine||Eric Campbell, David Gibson, Ruth Hessey and Frances McDonald||Student Union|
|1982||28||The National Slimes (The National Times)||John Amy and Hector Hill||Student Union|
|1983||29||15||Magazine||Bradley Norington and Alex Cramb||Student Union|
|1984||30||13||Magazine||Wendy Carlisle, Alastair Walton, Susan Smith, Mark Cahill||Student Union|
|1985||31||15||Magazine||Helen Doyle, Tim Menzies, Isabelle Albert, Jan Bellis, David Cox, John Olip, Gordon Farrer, Kay Heycox||Student Union|
|1986||32||14||Magazine||The Drug Expensive (parody of Australian federal government "Drug Offensive" information kit)||Jan Bellis, Robert Cook, David Cox, Gordon Farrer, Jim Gleeson, Kay Heycox, Vicki Lee, Tim Menzies, John Olip, Michael Priest||Student Union|
|1987||Magazine||Greed Weekend (Good Weekend)||James Adams, Jan Bellis, Gordon Farrer, Phillipa McGuinness, Toni Payne, Marisa Turanzas, Carol Walsh, Sherman Young||Student Union|
|1988||Up the TV Creek (TV Week); Bastard Review Weekly (Business Review Weekly)||James Adams, Frank Blanchfield, Jacinta Crimmins, Rowena Ivins, Gita Kemath, Joanne Mazzocchi, Paul Morehouse, Phillip Morrissey, Tim Nelson, Peter Rankin||Student Union|
|1990||36||14||Magazine||Golly (Dolly)||Student Union|
|1991||37||14||Magazine||The Spew Age||Angus Crosby, Catriona Mackenzie, Elisia Yeo, Mary O'Connell, Nicos Souleles, Patrizia Montanari, Yvonne y Hoare||Student Union|
|1992||38||14||Magazine||Who Cares? (Who magazine)||Thomas Tork, James Hooke, Daniel Grynberg, Annie Tennant, Sascha Kelso, Tara Gutman, Robi Stanton, Melissa McGrath, Alf Conlon, Nicos Souleles, Elias Hallaj||Student Union|
|1993||39||Magazine||Stuart Guinness, Alf Conlon and Yaron Finkelstein||Student Guild|
|1994||40||14||Magazine||The Fake||Amanda Pullinger and Andy Cook||Student Guild|
|1995||41||13||Magazine||The Typograph Error (The Telegraph Mirror)||Pauly Wall and David Caspari||Student Guild|
|1996||42||14||Magazine||Piss Weakend (Good Weekend)||Dale Harrison and Katie Kemm||Student Guild|
|1997||43||14||Magazine||Crawling Home (Rolling Stone)||Raj Khuman and Andrew Martin||Student Guild|
|1998||44||Magazine||Philip Choi and Edward Carroll||Student Guild|
|1999||45||14||Magazine||Weekly UNSW News (Weekly World News)||Christian Harimanow||Student Guild|
|2000||46||14||Magazine||Weekly UNSW News (Weekly World News)||Michael Shane Korogiannis and Marta Jary||Student Guild|
|2001||47||10||Magazine||The Gorgeous Edition (Hello! Magazine)||Michelle Carmody and Nick Salzberg||Student Guild|
|2002||48||Magazine||Ben's Health (Men's Health)||Anthony Levin and Alex Tyrell||Student Guild|
|2003||49||13||Magazine||Nude Scientist (New Scientist)||Calen Thurston||Student Guild|
|2004||50||17||Newspaper||Foundation Day-Mart (Kmart)||Joe Stella and Kathryn Small||Student Guild|
|2005||51||Newspaper||Bowling Stoned (Rolling Stone)||Christine Tran||Student Guild|
|2006||52||Magazine||Homeboy (Playboy)||Mansha Tandon and Patrick Coyte||Student Guild|
|2007||53||10||Magazine||Notional Geographic (National Geographic)||Sophie Braham and Tom Bowes||Arc @ UNSW|
|2008||54||10||Magazine||Chantel Cotterell, Chris Moore, Mirza Nurkic, Rory Thomas and Scarlet Wilcock||Arc @ UNSW|