Australia's longest-running and most successful science-fiction/fantasy magazine, Aurealis was founded in 1990 by Stephen Higgins and Dirk Strasser. Undaunted by the continued failure of similar magazines leading up to the end of the 1980s, Higgins and Strasser aimed to provide writers in those genres with the opportunity to have their works published and to help expand the readership of Australian fantasy and science fiction. Aurealis was also established as a vehicle for identifying and promoting emerging talent. The pair were able to get the magazine off the ground through the assistance of grants from the Victorian government, thus enabling them to offer payment to contributors.
Contributors to Aurealis over the years have included significant and influential Australian writers such as George Turner, Michael Pryor, Terry Dowling, Sean Williams, Greg Egan, Sean McMullen, Lucy Sussex, and Stephen Dedman (qq.v.). The reputation of the magazine was consolidated in 1995 with the inaugural Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction for Writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Higgins and Stresser announced their intention to sell Aurealis in 2001 so that they could concentrate on Chimaera Publications (the company they set up to publish Aurealis) and other projects. However, the sale was postponed indefinitely when Keith Stevenson offered to take over their editorial duties. Since 2005, the magazine has been edited by a various of editorial teams, including the pairings of Ben Payne and Robert Hoge, and of Stephen Higgins and Stuart Mayne.
Chimaera Publications has produced several anthologies drawing on work published in Aurealis.
The magazine is distributed by BBR in the UK, and through direct subscription worldwide.