This year I was lucky enough to attend the Cairns Amateurs as the plus one of my friend Craig Braybrook. This was my third Amateurs Carnival and I was stoked to get the chance to escape Melbourne for a long weekend in sunny Far North Queensland. I arrived in Cairns late Wednesday night and had three very busy and fun days before heading home on Sunday.

Thursday was the start of the Carnival with the Annual Ladies High Tea held at Cannon Park. This was great to get a glimpse of some early spring racewear. The women of Cairns know how to wear colour and as a great lover of bright happy colour I loved seeing everyone’s outfits. The Ladies High Tea also showcases local boutiques and emerging designers in a series of fashion parades that ran throughout the morning. Craig had brought some of his couture gowns to display and milliner and Fashions on the Field judge Rebecca Share from Geelong had also brought some of her work to parade on stage. There was a mini “Fashions on the Field” with each table selecting a representative to go up onstage for the chance to win a table for the following year. The judges Craig and Rebecca didn’t have an easy decision. There was also a charity raffle and lucky door prizes making for a very enjoyable and action packed morning.

After having the afternoon free to take a walk though Cairns city and catch some sun by the hotel pool I was soon getting ready for the next function. There was an opening cocktail party that evening held at the Casino. In previous years it had been held outdoors, but the weather didn’t want to co-operate so instead it was moved indoors. I was having such a good time chatting, eating and drinking the evening away that I forgot to take photos!

Craig and I in a lift selfie on the way to the cocktail party

Craig and I in a lift selfie on the way to the cocktail party

Now friday morning was when the Amateurs Carnival really kicked in with Ladies Day, the first day of Racing and Fashions on the Field being held. I was seated at the judges table in the Garden Party- A luncheon that hosts the Fashions on the Field action. If you want to go to Cairns Amateurs to see fashion, this is the place to be! As a bonus it’s all undercover and air conditioned.

The Judges for the competition were carnival ambassador and racing royalty Kate Waterhouse, head judge Kerrie Munro from Styling Services, Cathryn Meredith from Ladies in Racing Magazine, Rebecca Share, Milliner and my friend Craig Braybrook, Fashion Designer.

There were a number of categories for FOTF- Open Ladies, Millinery (Judged during Open Ladies) Gold Class, Emerging Designer and Emerging Milliner. There was also special judges awards and the Lisa Market Memorial Sash which is awarded to a contestant who has never won FOTF before.

As previous years the standard was really high and a lot of care was taken by the judges to see the contestants outfits properly. I wasn’t judging, but being seated at the same table as the judges I heard a lot of the discussion and debate in deciding the winners. The judges were given the criteria prior to the competition and were looking closely at it as they selected their winners.

I had a great day at the races and the Amateurs carnival continued into the night and the next day. I’ll continue my wrap up in part 2 shortly.

I also took photos of (I think) every contestant in Fashions on the Field. If I haven’t put one up of you, feel free to email me at let me know what you were wearing and I’m happy to have a look and email you any pics I have.

By Angela