More than $90 million was raised by the Miss Australia competition for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association between 1954 and 2000.
When is Miss Australia not Miss Australia? When she is Miss Universe or Miss World. The Miss Australia competition was never affiliated with these events. Australians have competed for these other titles but they are run as quite separate events with their own Australian representatives and competitions. High profile winners of these titles include Belinda Green (Miss World 1972) and Jennifer Hawkins (Miss Universe 2004).
Alice Buckridge, winner of the first national contest to find Australia’s ideal woman, was described as ‘a wholesome girl who enjoys playing sport, never goes to dances or uses face powders’.
Phyllis Von Alwyn’s prizes for winning the 1927 quest included an ostrich-feather cape and a car. She also received the keys to Atlantic City on her world tour.
Questions for state finalists in 1957 included: 'How would you eat soup or cereal?' and ‘What is something spectacular the Russians have done recently?’
Miss Australia’s popularity peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. A crowd of more than 5000 people gathered to watch Miss Australia 1957, Helen Wood, marry Australian tennis star Ashley Cooper.
In its heyday the national awards were telecast and the winner was front page news. Hosts included Stuart Wagstaff, Maggie Tabberer, Daryl Somers, Greg Evans, Barry Crocker and Richard Wilkins.
Various Miss Australia winners later had careers in television, including Maureen Kistle (1955) and Tracey Dale (1986). Rosemary Fenton (1960) went on to write a series of cookery books and Gay Walker (1972) became a barrister and academic.
Miss Australia 1964, Jan Taylor, was only allowed to enter after her parents sought advice from their parish priest, who gave the all clear.
When the Miss Australia Quest became the Miss Australia Awards in 1991, the sash, sceptre and gala balls were replaced with business suits and working lunches. Entrants became participants and charity queens became fundraisers. The new suite of prizes included scholarships and investment portfolios.
State rivalry was fierce and dominated by New South Wales and Queensland until the early 1960s. Tension mounted as Victoria was seemingly passed over for the national prize, until 1973 when Michelle Downes won the crown.
The Miss Australia crown was worn by each national winner until 1992. The crown was a gift from the Australian proprietors of the Toyomoto company. It features 800 Japanese pearls, six large Australian pearls and a silver wattle design.
Miss Australia winners met Prince Charles, Pope John Paul II, US President Lyndon Johnson, Elizabeth Taylor, Perry Como, various Australian Prime Ministers and Premiers and stars from the sports field and screen.
Miss Australia winners were accompanied by chaperones who provided guidance, protection and advice. Pamela Woodger was the longest serving chaperone, clocking up 27 years and various state and international tours.