Makar was established in 1960 as a student run magazine of the English Society of the University of Queensland. Taking its title from the middle-Scots word for maker, it published poetry, fiction, drama and criticism. Graham Rowlands was appointed editor soon after the magazine changed to a smaller format in 1966. Then, in 1968, Martin Duwell was appointed editor, beginning his long association with the magazine. By the early 1970s the poetry published in Makar had evolved, according to Robert Habost in his 1982 assessment for Image, 'from the "gushy", "high flying", imagistic, traditional rhyming verse' of the early 1960s 'to ... stark, concise, condensed verse'.
Makar appeared four times a year until 1972 when one of the four was replaced with three small books of poetry produced for the Gargoyle Poet Series published by Makar Press. Poets who were published in this series include Graham Rowlands, Alan Wearne, Peter Annand, Antigone Kefala, Rae Desmond Jones, Kris Hemensley, Eric Beach, John Tranter, Philip Neilsen, Jennifer Maiden, John Scott and Geoff Page.
In a 1977 survey for Australian Literary Studies, Duwell characterised the magazine as a 'forum approach' in contrast to a 'manifesto magazine', accepting a wide variety of forms and subjects. Critics saw this plurality as a sign of the magazine's lack of direction. But Duwell, while accepting that such an approach might not give the magazine a lasting reputation, argued that Makar provided a useful representation of the variety of contemporary creative writing.
Makar also conducted a significant series of interviews with contemporary writers, some of which were published in A Possible Contemporary Poetry (1982). In his introduction to this volume, Duwell imagined the Makar audience as 'reasonably intelligent, willing, but puzzled' about the 'profound and acrimonious disagreement about the nature and role of poetry and language'. It was to such debates that Makar addressed itself. The last issue of Makar appeared in September 1980.