Universe is theirs

_ W _ith colourful cabanas, pumping music and a palm tree-lined pool, Perth's newest venue du jour was a fitting location to crown six local beauties the WA State finalists for Miss Universe Australia.

A sold-out crowd cheered on Courtney Read, Stephanie Wake, Bree Wilson, Felicia Kendrick, Georgia Gibbs and Lucy Ross as they did their victory lap of the catwalk at Matisse Beach Club, which officially opened this month in Scarborough.

Holly Johnson was named Miss Congeniality, while Melissa Barnard took out the social networker award and Oana Simon was voted _The Weekend West's _viewers' choice.

The women beat out hundreds of entrants from across the State, all vying to follow in the footsteps of the past Perth contestants who became Australian titleholders, Renae Ayris and Scherri-Lee Biggs, who acted as host for the evening.

Nerves were high early on as 24 preliminary finalists descended on the runway over three rounds, where they donned Harpers Dresses, Cebiche Swimwear and Tarvydas gowns during the notoriously nail-biting question and answer section.

A judging panel including pageant director Troy Barbagallo, designer Ruth Tarvydas and Aussie Bombshell founder Penni Towner had the tough job of whittling down the competition to the final six, who will travel to Melbourne to participate in the national showdown in June.

The event had a new dimension this year when it was broadcast via a live feed by _The Weekend West _, allowing friends, family and former contenders to tune in from around the world. The feed can still be watched online at thewest.com.au/misswa.

The West Australian

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