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   Jul 05

Best friends forever

Kate Ryan (left) and Nikki Quarry, aged 9, in Nikki’s parents’ backyard in St Ives, Sydney. Both aged 38, Kate lives in Newcastle, Nikki in Sydney, but the pair catch up for lunch whenever they can. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Nanjing Night Net

Then:

On the first day of kindergarten, curly-haired Jo admired Claire’s straight-haired bun, and a friendship was born. The pair were thick as thieves through primary school and spent their days exploring the reserve backing onto Jo’s house. At high school they were frequently scolded for talking in class.

At Sydney University, Jo studied economics, Claire medicine. Joint travels followed to Greece in 1994, then Nepal in 2000, where emergency doctor Claire nursed Jo through altitude sickness. “It was a really significant moment for me,” says Claire. “I was really frightened she could die.”

Now:

Jo and Claire, both 42, still have a firm friendship despite Claire moving to the Blue Mountains, a two-hour drive from Jo’s Sydney home. They both have two sons under 10.

With family and careers to juggle, phone calls these days between Jo and Claire are snatched. The main topic: parenting.

But what each admired about the other as young women still holds – Claire’s ethics and social conscience, and Jo’s unique perspective on life.

For their 40th birthdays, they completed a trek in central Australia and they aim to continue the spirit of their childhood adventures by going on more walking holidays. They always enjoy chatting over chai tea and cakes.

Forged over 38 years, they consider their relationship unique. “We know each other so well we can be ourselves at all times,” says Jo, an accountant.

“I don’t have that feeling with other female friendships. I feel very lucky to have her in my life.”

Then:

Kate can still remember the plush cream carpet at Nikki’s house. “I loved going there because they had nice carpet and her mum always organised craft activities for us,” says Kate.

When Kate suffered a stroke at age 10, they became even closer. “My whole life changed and I wasn’t able to dance any more. But Nikki never treated me any differently.” The pair lost touch when Nikki went to boarding school, but “each of us was constantly thinking about the other”, says Kate.

A decade ago, they reconnected on Facebook and discovered a shared passion for art and travel. “It was just like no time had passed,” says Kate.

A few months after rekindling their friendship, the pair travelled through Thailand together. “I’ve never heard her complain about anything,” says Nikki.

“I admire her strength and optimism.”

Now:

Both aged 38, Kate lives in Newcastle, Nikki in Sydney, but the pair catch up for lunch whenever they can.

Busy family lives see the friends juggling hectic schedules. Each has three children – both two boys and a girl – and their eldest children were born one day apart.

Last year, following a relationship breakup, Kate, a photographer, moved with her young family to Newcastle.

Still new to the area, she had no one to invite to her twin sons’ first birthday party. Nikki, an artist, drove up from Sydney to be the guest of honour.

“I hate driving but she was up there on her own and I knew how grateful she would be,” says Nikki.

“She’s always willing to be available and be there,” says Kate. “She travels a lot and I can’t travel at the moment, so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. But whenever we can we have lunch together and there’s always something to talk about.”

Then:

The first time Christine saw Kara, she was roller-skating past her bedroom window. “We’d just moved in next door,” says Christine. “I had four brothers so I was really glad to see a girl.”

They spent afternoons playing tennis in the street and played netball in the same team for years. As teenagers, they went to the same parties and were confidants when boys came along.

They were in each other’s bridal parties and became mothers together. Their eldest daughters were born four months apart and remain friends. Their second daughters, also born within four months, are especially close. “We’ve been through so much together,” says Christine. “We were there for each other and we looked after each other.”

Now:

Christine is 46, Kara 45.

Both live in the Melbourne suburb of Berwick and catch up at least weekly for a coffee, a meal or a gym session.

They still love to share adventures – Christine plans for them to walk the Kokoda Track. Kara likes their chances as contestants in The Amazing Race.

“I would be the navigator because Christine can’t tell left from right,” laughs Kara. “But she has the intelligence to work things out and we would work very well together.”

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, of course. Kara came from a broken home and her own marriage broke up in 2003. Christine has struggled with bouts of depression. They describe their friendship as lifelong and dependable.

“She has been my rock,” says Kara, a dental practice manager. “She’s the least judgmental person I know and she’s been through it all with me.”

Christine, a midwife, says: “We all have ups and downs in life and it’s nice to be able to share that with someone you trust.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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