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Timeline

Timeline

Alice Buckridge, Miss Australia 1908

1908: Alice Buckridge is named the first Australasian winner by the Lone Hand magazine which, in order to boost its circulation, had run a competition to find Australia's most beautiful girl.

1926: The owners of Smith's Weekly and the Guardian launch another quest to find 'the perfect woman of a continent'. Beryl Mills wins from a pool of more than 1000 entrants.

1927: Tasmanian Phyllis Von Alwyn becomes Miss Australia 1927. Despite the quest's popularity, a national competition does not take place again until 1936-7.

Photo left: Alice Buckridge, Miss Australia 1908. Courtesy: National Library of Australia Nq 059.44 LON.

Beryl Mills, Miss Australia 1926, wearing a swimsuit and sash
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1936: Smith's Weekly runs the competition with the specific aim of finding a suitable young lady to witness the coronation of Edward VIII in England. After Sheila Martin's win (Miss Australia 1937) the contest is suspended until after World War II.

1945: The quest is relaunched with a new role as a fundraising event for various war charities. Prime Minister Ben Chifley is assured Miss Australia will promote Australia abroad: 'with her trim figure dressed in Australian wool, our greatest product.'

Photo right: Beryl Mills, Miss Australia 1926. Courtesy: State Library of New South Wales FA 920.7/M page 17.

War veterans' appeal poster, 1940s with the words, Support your Miss Australia candidate - Who will be Miss Australia - Glorifying the Australian girl...

Photo above: War veterans' appeal poster, 1940s. Courtesy: RSL Queensland.

1950: National competition is suspended following a dispute between Miss Australia 1949, Margaret Hughes, and organisers regarding the choice of chaperone.

1953: Bernard Dowd, chief of Dowd Associates, the manufacturer of Hickory Lingerie in Australia, brings new style and resources to the quest. A year later the Dowd vision is coupled with the fundraising efforts of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association.

1961: Tania Verstak is the first naturalised Australian to win the Miss Australia title. Born in China to Russian parents, Tania is the only Miss Australia who goes on to win Miss International. She causes a stir by refusing to pose in a swimsuit for photographers.

1968: Miss Australia ceases competing in the Miss International competition.

1969: Bernard Dowd withdraws his personal financial support and the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association becomes the main driver of the competition.

Shirley Bliss receiving the Miss Australia trophy, Tania Verstak holding the trophy and Susie Elelman cleaning up cans to raise funds

Photos above (left to right): Bernard Dowd presents Shirley Bliss, Miss Australia 1954, with her trophy. Courtesy: Bliss Ryan. Tania Verstak, Miss Australia 1961. Courtesy: Miss Australia Company. Susie Elelman, Miss New South Wales 1973, shovelling cans to raise money for the Spastic Centre. Photo: John Seymour. Courtesy: Susie Elelman.

1973: Miss Northern Territory 1973, Judy Gee, is controversially banned from competing at the national finals when it is revealed she is an unmarried mother.

1981: The International Year of the Disabled puts the spotlight on opposition to the quest. Feminist activists and lobby groups for the disabled protest outside national finals throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Stop the Miss Victoria Quest, 1984 poster with the words Reject Beauty Quests, Reject Charity - Stop the Miss Victoria Quest - the image depicting a woman wearing a dress, crown and sash with the word REJECT stamped over her

1984: The quest's national finals are broadcast live on television for the last time.

1990: Differences of opinion between state cerebral palsy associations about the quest's future lead to the withdrawal of Western Australia from the national competition.

1991: Miss Australia is officially 'crowned' for the last time and the Miss Australia Quest is renamed the Miss Australia Awards.

1993: Debate over the inclusion of men surfaces with Damian Taylor's entry. He is allowed to compete in a separate category.

Photo left: Stop the Miss Victoria Quest, 1984. Poster produced by Tanya McIntyre, probably while working as Artist-In-Residence at Redletter Press, Brunswick, Melbourne. National Museum of Australia. Photo: George Serras.

Kathryn Hay with John Howard and Margaret Reid (left) at Parliament House, Canberra

Photo above: Kathryn Hay with John Howard and Margaret Reid at Parliament House, Canberra 1999. Courtesy: AUSPIC.

1997: Brad Rodgers raises the highest amount of money but organisers are reluctant to award the title to a male. He is presented with the new title of National Fundraiser instead.

1999: Kathryn Hay becomes the first indigenous woman to win the national award.

2000: Sheree Primmer is named the last Miss Australia. Her reign lasts for the evening of the finale ball.