Tharunka is a student magazine published at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Established in 1953[1] at the then New South Wales University of Technology, Tharunka has been published in a variety of forms by various student organisations. At present, Tharunka is published 8 times a year by Arc @ UNSW Limited. The name Tharunka means "message stick" in a Central Australian Aboriginal language.

Tharunka 2016 Issue 8.jpg
Tharunka, issue 8 2016, front cover
TypeStudent newspaper
Owner(s)Arc @ UNSW Limited
Founded1953 (1953)
HeadquartersSydney, Australia


A 2004 issue, when Tharunka appeared as a weekly tabloid

The first issue of Tharunka was published in March 1953 by the Students' Union, with Sid Dunk and Harold Spies as editors.[1] 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. In 2006, Tharunka returned to the fortnightly magazine format. Since 2013, the newspaper has been published in a tabloid newspaper 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. A new student organisation, Arc @ UNSW Limited, took over publication of Tharunka from 2007, with Tharunka now published by a student team under the steerage of its Marketing Department.[2] Tharunka is managed by a small staff and a wider group of volunteers. Including staff wages, the publication's budget is under $40,000 per year.[3]


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 irreverent 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.[4] News satire is a regular feature of the publication.


As the journal of a political organisation, Tharunka's editorial direction was often influenced by the dominant faction within the student body at the time. Where the editors distanced themselves from the agenda of student representatives, conflict was often 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.[5] With the end of the Guild and Union, and founding of Arc, Tharunka is now under the auspices of Arc's Marketing Department, rather than a political organisation. However, editorial remains edgy with Issue 1 of 2010 containing the word 'fuck' on its front cover.

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."[6]

In October 2010 the Arc withheld the final edition of Tharunka for the year even though 2000 copies had already been printed. The edition had originally included an article on the subject of BDSM sexual practices, which the CEO of Arc refused to publish. The editors complied by withdrawing the offending article, but printed in its place a mocking note making fun of censorship. As a result, the magazine was refused distribution.[citation needed]

Notable editors and contributorsEdit

Other student media at UNSWEdit

Tharunka is one of a number of periodicals that have emerged from the university.

  • Blitz is a fortnightly, 24-page full-colour campus events guide that evolved from newsletters circulated by the University of New South Wales Union in the 1970s. The name "Blitz" was adopted in mid-1988.[14] In mid-1994, the Union introduced more editorial material to Blitz, hiring former Tharunka editor Alf Conlon to expand the range of content. In 2010, Blitz remains a "What's On" guide with content steered towards providing coverage to on-campus news and events, and also as a conduit of communication for the Student Representative Council. Blitz and Tharunka are now both published by Arc.
  • Students at the university's College of Fine Arts produced regular zines under the titles Xerox Positive, and since 2005, Zing Tycoon with 'COFAtopia' now launched, which retains the A5 format, "zine" feel.
  • Tharunka contributors were instrumental in the establishment of The Student Leader in 2004.


The paper has been partially digitised as part of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program project of the National Library of Australia.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b "University timeline exhibition". University of New South Wales. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  2. ^ Loussikian, Kylar (16 September 2015). "Playboy strips bare past life on campus". The Australian.
  3. ^ O'Halloran, Brett (June 2005) "The Implications of Voluntary Student Unionism Legislation for UNSW An Issues Paper with Recommendations". Accessed 13 November 2006 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 January 2007. Retrieved 13 November 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Foundation Day Exhibition at UNSW official site. Retrieved 14 December 2020
  5. ^ Korogiannis, Michael (November 2000). "Are some more equal than others?". Tharunka.
  6. ^ Duffy, Michael (13 November 2004). "Forced to subsidise bad food and bullies". The Daily Telegraph
  7. ^ Organ, Michael. "OZ magazine goes digital – and the party continues". The Conversation. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  8. ^ Organ, Michael. "With energy, ideas and cheek to spare, Richard Neville was the boy of OZ". The Conversation. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  9. ^ Neville, Richard (3 December 2013). "Singular artist's mind-blowing voyage in paint". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. ^ "bellebyrd: Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp". 19 October 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b Lumby, Catharine (August 2015). "Reshaping public intellectual life: Frank Moorhouse and his milieu". Media International Australia. 156 (1): 133–141. doi:10.1177/1329878X1515600115. ISSN 1329-878X. S2CID 149267110.
  12. ^ Kerr, Joan (1996). "Jenny Coopes". Design & Art Australia Online. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  13. ^ Bacon, Wendy (2011). "Being free by acting free". Overland (202 Autumn). Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  14. ^ Student Publications at University of NSW. Retrieved 14 December 2020
  15. ^ "Newspaper and magazine titles". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Newspaper Digitisation Program". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 5 June 2013.

External linksEdit