Many people have asked why the Museum would be interested in examining the history of a simple beauty competition. Miss Australia was many things – simple was not one of them. During judging in the 1957 Miss Australia competition finalists were asked a series of probing questions.
Competitors were asked for a quick response to questions such as:
When describing Australia to a group of people your own age in England, the Continent or America how would you present this country to them?
They were grilled on current affairs:
A defeat for the Republicans. The Democrats now have control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This is a severe reverse for the Eisenhower administration.
The discovery of oil in what appears to be commercial quantities at Puri in Papua. This would save Australia millions in pounds and dollars now paid to other countries of oil products.
If a fingerbowl is provided, yes.
My Lord or Your Grace
The Right Honourable
The German Richard Strauss and the Frenchman Claude Debussy.
As these questions demonstrate, Miss Australia was expected to be charming, cultured and knowledgeable on a range of fronts. She had to speak confidently about current affairs, arts and culture and be able to represent what was described by organisers as ‘the best of Australian womanhood’ to the world.