It is the mystery that has dominated Scottish politics for months, inspired artwork and even sparked a copycat photo-op with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

Just who was it that Alex Salmond was pictured feeding a Solero to back in 1999, and how did the picture come to be taken in the first place?

But now the identity of 'Solero girl', as she has come to be known since the photograph went viral after resurfacing on irreverent website Buzzfeed, and the inside story of that picture can finally be revealed.

Kate Adamson, 33, spoke to The Herald from Melbourne, where she currently lives with her husband and two-year-old daughter, explaining why she has proven so difficult to track down.

Then 17, she recalls going along to Stirling University with her father, who was campaigning for the SNP in the inaugural Scottish Parliament elections in 1999, for "something to do".

There, she was approached by a photographer who asked if she would be willing to have her picture taken with then-SNP leader Mr Salmond, who also happened to be on the scene. One of the snappers produced an ice lolly, and in her words, 'Solero girl was born'.

She says: "The photographer said they needed someone wearing white - I'm not sure why or if that was even true. They asked me to stand near the tree and lots of photographers were shouting.

"It was strange to have so many photographers shouting instructions and as I was so young and perhaps a little naive I didn't consider at the time what the outcome would be or what their intentions were.

"When the picture was published in The Sunday Herald they had a thought bubble over Alex Salmond's head saying 'there's another sucker for a vote.' At the time I thought it was amusing as I couldn't even vote... It was definitely a lesson for me in trusting the integrity of the media and not believing everything you read or see online or in the papers. It taught me how news can often be manipulated."

Ms Adamson, originally from Hamilton, says she has mixed feelings about the reaction to the photograph since it caught the imagination of thousands online, leading to a series of Solero-based jokes related to Scottish politics with some of the most senior politicians in the land getting in on the act.

She adds: "Of course I can see the funny side of the picture but I think its recent resurfacing online through the Buzzfeed article has given me a new perspective on it. Particularly as I'm older now and have a daughter I am concerned about how women are portrayed in the media.

"Some of the comments made online about it are misogynistic, sexist and aggressive which of course is unnerving but sadly not surprising. It is unusual to have complete strangers make assumptions about me from one photograph. I have had friends ask if I am embarrassed about the picture. I'm not sure that I am. The whole experience has given me a lot to think about."

However, it has not put her off supporting the SNP, revealing that she was "incredibly disappointed" by the referendum result and is hoping that Mr Salmond will be successful in his bid to become an MP once again on Thursday.

She said: "I'd like to add that Solero all those years ago was not what influenced me in my support of independence. I believe that Scotland has got a lot to offer. I have lived overseas a few times in my life and I think that distance actually makes you look more closely at where you come from because you have a genuine comparison to make.

"Although Scotland did not gain independence in the referendum I believe that the SNP will do a fantastic job to ensure that Scotland is represented fairly and equally at Westminster. I do hope to see a second referendum in my lifetime."

She also took the chance to clear up some of the myths spread by online sleuths seeking to solve the mystery. The location of the shoot led many to assume that Ms Adamson was a student in Stirling when in fact, she attended Glasgow University. She also says that the picture was definitely not digitally altered, as some have speculated.

And with his mystery finally solved, she laid down a fresh challenge to the online journalist who started the Solero girl episode.

"My favourite ice lolly is probably a Zoom but I don't think they make those anymore... maybe Jamie Ross can track one down for me."