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Tania Verstak
, 1962

by Jozef Vissel

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 40.8 cm x 30.4 cm, image: 36.8 cm x 27.8 cm)

Tania Verstak

Tania Verstak (b. 1940) won the Miss Australia quest in 1961. Born in Shanghai of Russian refugee parents, she arrived in Australia with her family when she was 11. Spotted by a representative of the Spastic Centre while promoting olive oil at the Sydney Show, she won the Miss Northern Beaches and Miss New South Wales contests to progress to the Miss Australia pageant. When she won, Minister for Immigration Alexander R. Downer declared that 'the selection of Miss Verstak, a naturalised Australian, is the ultimate demonstration - if any demonstration were needed - of the way in which our new settlers have entered the hearts and lives of the Australian people'. As Miss Australia Verstak travelled to the USA, where she was crowned Miss International in 1962. After completing her reigns Verstak worked for a short time as a promotional representative for Qantas before raising a family. Her experiences continue to interest researchers into the history of immigration to Australia.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2005
Accession number: 2005.117