04 May 2016

Waltons Quest of Quests Beauty Contest of 1979

The Australian department store chain Waltons' sponsored a number of Quest of Quest Beauty contests including the 1979 Quest of Quests final in Canberra, at Albert Hall, on 19 September. The event was attended by then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser and his wife, Tamie Fraser; the Governor General Sir Zelman Cowen and his wife, Lady Cowen; and some two hundred guests.

The competition, made up of twelve finalists, was won by Jodie Day, aged seventeen, of Brisbane. Day won entry into the Miss World competition in London as Australia’s representative, a new car and $1,000. Other winners included Lorraine McGrady, winner of Miss Asia Australia title; Joanne Bacon, winner of Miss Young International title; and Debbie Newsome, winner of Miss International title.

The controversy generated by the Miss World pageant, particularly for its promotion of the bikini, affected the event at Albert Hall. It was objected to by several women’s organisations, such as the Women’s Electoral Lobby. Some particularly objected to the event being held in Canberra, a place for the recognition of serious national achievement. However The Canberra Times report of the final being televised focused on the boost to tourism with the then Minister for the Capital Territory, Mr Ellicott, reported saying "having the finals in Canberra was a very good promotion for the ACT". The article further adds that the finalists would be shown visiting tourist venues in the ACT during the televised program.

The ACT Heritage Library holds a number of colour photographs capturing how Albert Hall was set up to accommodate the event, a number of significant guests who attended and proceedings of the event, including the winning competitors. 

Articles in local newspapers of the event can be located using the ACT Heritage Library's Newspaper Holdings webpage.


1979, ‘Three million to watch quest final,’ The Canberra Times, 19 September, p. 9.

Rees, J.  1979, ‘Jodie Day is off to seek the world title,’ The Australian Women’s Weekly,  10 October 1979, p. 14-15.

Waltons (department store), 9 March 2016, Wikipedia, URL: