The Australian Women’s Weekly: 90 Years of an Australian Icon

A new exhibition developed by Bendigo Art Gallery and The Australian Women’s Weekly, pays homage to The Weekly as it celebrates its 90th birthday in 2023.

Established in 1933, The Australian Women’s Weekly is one of this country’s most loved and iconic magazine brands, shaping and reflecting the lives of Australian women for nine decades, and earning a special place in the heart of the nation.

Opening on Saturday 27 May, the exhibition showcases The Australian Women’s Weekly‘s rich historythe stories, the fashion and glamour featured in this much-loved magazine brand over the past nine decadeswhile also paying a heart-warming tribute to Australian women’s creativity and care-giving in the domestic and public sphere.

The Australian Women’s Weekly: 90 Years of an Australian Icon celebrates the contributions of some of the most influential and trailblazing women who have made The Weekly a magazine for women, by women, from its very beginnings – including:

  • Ita Buttrose, widely regarded as The Australian Women’s Weekly’s publishing icon who, as the youngest ever editor, took over the reins of the publication in the 1970s, transforming it into a thriving cultural institution, with a readership that exceeded two million. Buttrose had a keen eye for content that resonated with Australian women, tackling subjects like sex education, mental health, and domestic violence.
  • Former editor and courageous wartime reporter Dorothy Drain, who wrote articles from the field from the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  The exhibition will showcase Dorothy’s scrapbooks, writings and memorabilia for the very first time.

The exhibition looks back at the multitude of cooking, dressmaking, interior design and craft projects The Weekly has inspired over the decades, and includes cakes from the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, originally published in 1980 and still such a treasured part of Australian childhood that it featured in an episode of Bluey.

Also included are some of the magazine’s most popular (and occasionally a little kitsch) handicrafts including a knitted ‘Blinky’ jumper based on the pattern published by The Weekly in 1982, mere weeks after Princess Diana was photographed wearing Jenny Kee’s iconic original at a polo match.

Jessica Bridgfoot, Director of the Bendigo Art Gallery, said she was delighted to work with The Australian Women’s Weekly team to present this exhibition.  “The Weekly has embodied and reflected the aspirations and self-expression of so many Australian women over the last 90 years,” she said.

“We’re excited to present an exhibition that explores the history of this much-loved Australian magazine, and how it has reflected and inspired Australian women especially in the pre-digital decades, when it offered a vital window into fashion, domestic and social trends from the global stage,” said Jessica.

Other highlights of the exhibition include:

  • A selection of the some of the biggest selling and most memorable covers featuring Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, as well as current and future Australian trailblazers like Turia Pitt, Delta Goodrem and more.
  • Vintage photographs and behind the scenes materials depicting an iconic 1948 fashion show and magazine edition showcasing Parisian fashion, inspired by Christian Dior’s revolutionary ‘New Look’, and modelled by visiting French models.
  • Collections of photos from past editors and staff including Ita Buttrose and Alice Jackson.
  • Five stunning pieces of contemporary Australian fashion design which have graced recent covers, worn by an inspiring range of notable Australian women, including a Toni Maticevski gown worn by legendary culinary entrepreneur Maggie Beer and an Aurelio Costarella gown worn by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark amongst others.

“We are thrilled to be bringing some of The Weekly’s most memorable moments to the Bendigo Art Gallery in what will be a spectacular start to our 90th celebrations,” said editor-in-chief Nicole Byers.

“90 Years of an Australian Icon celebrates not only The Australian Women’s Weekly heritage of agenda-setting story-telling and trusted lifestyle and food content, it also explores how the brand has charted the changing lives of Australian women from 1933 to today.”

The Australian Women’s Weekly: 90 Years of an Australian Icon
Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo
Exhibition: 27 May – 27 August 2023
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Australian Women’s Weekly 19 February 1975 cover | The Australian Women’s Weekly 23 November 1960 cover – photograph by Adelie Hurley | The Australian Women’s Weekly 13 July 1940 cover