Established as an alternative to literary magazines such as Southerly and Meanjin, the first number of the Port Phillip Gazette appeared in winter 1952. The editor, Desmond Fennessy, proposed that the magazine would appear quarterly, but only seven irregular numbers were issued in a four year period.
Asserting the magazine's independence, the inaugural editorial declared 'We do not intend to publish the sort of stuff that we think you want to read. We will publish what we want to read ourselves and can't find elsewhere. If it is not what you want to read too, that's too bad and we can't be worried.' In addition to reviews of theatrical and arts events, articles, poetry and short stories were also accepted. Contributors included Fennessy, H. A. Lindsay, Allan Dawes, James W. Kern, Gordon Gow and Vincent Buckley. Barry Humphries contributed several items, including the text of his first performance of the character Edna Everage. Vincent Buckley, recalling the magazine in Cutting Green Hay, suggests that the Port Phillip Gazette 'contrived to be both New Yorkerish and laconically Australian.'
In summer 1955, a national monthly was proposed if enough subscribers were secured, but this did not happen and the Port Phillip Gazette ceased production after the autumn number of 1956.