When the American Association of Australian Literary Studies (AAALS) was founded in April 1986 to study and promote Australian literature in North America, members saw the need for a journal to serve North American readers. The first issue of Antipodes was launched at the second AAALS conference in April 1987 at Pennsylvania State University.
According to the founding editor, Robert Ross, Antipodes aims 'to present varied and intelligent discussions of Australian writing to a North American audience that may not be well-informed on Australian literary history and development'. To this end each issue contains recent news, three to five essays, interviews and more than a dozen book reviews. Most contributors of essays and book reviews are from North America, but Antipodes has published contributions from other countries, including Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Antipodes also publishes original poetry and fiction exclusively by Australian writers. Contributors have included A. D. Hope, Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Hewett, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Mudrooroo, Fay Zwicky, Judith Wright, Les Murray, Thomas Shapcott, John Kinsella, Peter Porter and Rosemary Dobson. Interviews have featured writers such as Patrick White, Shirley Hazzard, Randolph Stow, Thea Astley, David Williamson, David Malouf, Mary Durack, Rodney Hall, Elizabeth Jolley, Jack Hibberd, Gillian Mears, Sally Morgan, Robert Dessaix and Peter Carey.Demonstrating the North American interest in Australian Literature and current research done by North Americans, Antipodes publishes an annual 'Bibliography of Australian Literature and Criticism Published in North America' compiled since 1992 by Faye Christenberry.