BEAUTY pageants were Karen Pini's ticket to travel the world.
The title of Miss West Coast in 1976 set Karen on a path which culminated in her being named the Miss World runner-up, followed by work with leading photographers at glamorous photo shoot locations from New York to a chateau in the south of France.
Today, Karen lives in the Camden Haven.
"It gave me opportunities but I missed home when I was travelling," Karen says about pageants and modelling. I was fortunate working with great photographers."
Karen toured England and Scotland calling games of bingo after the Miss World pageant, which she says was hysterical given she ended up presenting the Lotto draw. She earned 50 pounds for each bingo call which was big money back then.
But modelling usually didn't pay much and Karen was often waiting to be paid for work she did months earlier.
"There were times when it wasn't enjoyable, but when I look back, I think I was pretty fortunate I had those unique times," she says.
Her modelling days included photo shoots in a French lavender field and in the Bahamas.
Karen came back to Australia in 1979 with the intention of returning to England but television opportunities, at just the right time, kept Karen here. She appeared on television shows The Paul Hogan Show and The Young Doctors.
Her time on soap opera The Young Doctors as nurse Sherry Andrews taught Karen her interest was in presenting, not acting.
"I don't like not being myself and that is what acting is," she says.
An opportunity to present the NSW Lotto draw was Karen's next big break. The then interim job started with a 30-minute special with television personality Mike Walsh and ended up as a 12-year commitment.
"It was the best thing I ever did," Karen says.
The job featured two evenings a week and other promotional work. People still recognise Karen from her time as a Lotto presenter. she was the first television presenter to work through her pregnancies. Work with other companies followed the Lotto job.
The lifestyle attracted Karen to the Camden Haven five years ago.
Her days are filled as a swim teacher at Laurieton, managing Queens Lake Retirement Village, running a bed and breakfast with husband Garry Carpenter and voluntary work with the Camden Haven Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"The wonderful thing about this area is you have people who come to retire but they are still young and want to be involved," she says
That leads to a wonderful mix of people with plenty of energy, Karen says.