Nikki ParkinsonLife 26 Comments

The last time we’d all been together we were fresh of face and hard of hair on account of our collective over-consumption and addiction to hairspray.

Sure some of us had caught up with others in the group over past 26 years.

Been to each other’s weddings. Been Godparents for our kids. Been supports through the worst kind of life events.

But we hadn’t all been together as a group, for no other reason than to CATCH UP.

Some couldn’t make it. Some we realised should have been on list are now on it for next time (and there will be a next time).

But the eight who did make it?

It was as if the 26 years melted away.


Conversations were picked up where they left off and did not stop until long after dinner had finished and the party had moved to a nearby bar.

A lifetime of happenings caught up on over four hours.

Our friendship story began in the late ’80s in the regional Queensland town of Maryborough.

It was my home town, where my dad was born, where I was born and where I spent most of my school years.

Maryborough called me back after finishing my uni degree. To a cadetship at Chronicle. My besties from uni, Clare and Nadia, joined me within four months.

I don’t think I realised how damn lucky I was at the time. To have my good friends with me at the start of our career.

We shared a house a few blocks from work – and the town centre – and it was that proximity to the “action” that saw our house become the place people went to after the lights came on and the drinks stopped being poured at the Royal Hotel’s Peaches Nightspot.

Once there via foot or shopping trolley, the vinyl was pulled out and put on in a very non-hipster-like fashion. Further dancing ensued. Oh the stories that post-war house could tell.

Plenty of toast, bacon and Moccona was always on hand as there’d always be a few extras for breakfast on a Saturday.

See, we were so damn lucky to start out our grown-up life in a country town.

There were few places to go out to, so when you did venture out you got to meet all the other young newcomers, who were also making their start in this thing they call adulthood.

Our friendship group extended beyond other journos to teachers, health professionals, valuers and town planners. Through their networks we met farmers, car sales reps, hairdressers, beauticians and business owners.

And because (apart from going to the pub) there wasn’t a lot on offer social wise, we made our own fun.

We formed a committee and fundraised for one of our friends competing in the Queen of Hearts quest. I’m sure the aim and good intention to raise funds for the National Heart Foundation was there but with benefit of age and hindsight, I can’t help but question, was our ulterior motive to have a full social calendar of fun things to do?

We organised everything from a pub crawl around the country pubs surrounding Maryborough to a garden party on the lawn of one of the town’s heritage-listed homes.

Aside from going to the pub or fundraising, dinner parties were our social activities of choice. Many of us were far from apprentice chefs but where there is a will for a social occasion, there is a way to turn a limited budget into a fun night in for friends.

Weekends were spent exploring Fraser Island, camping at Double Island Point, staying and fishing at Tinnanbar on the Great Sandy Strait and sailing in the Bay-to-Bay yacht race … all thanks to our new friends who came with the collective benefit of holiday homes and four wheel drives.

Hollywood came to town and we got to star* in a Hollywood movie alongside Kylie Minogue. And dance alongside her at the aforementioned Peaches Nightspot.

Brisbane beckoned with Expo ’88. The Festhaus and Plough Inn would never be the same after the Maryborough crew descended en masse.

This was an era long before social media. We weren’t even using computers at the newspaper.

Phones were attached to walls. If no-one was home when someone called it just rang out and you relied on them calling back later.

We didn’t use the phone too much to make long-distance calls. Too expensive.

We wrote letters to our friends and we waited for their letters back to find out what was happening in their lives.

Do I yearn to go back to those days?


If it weren’t for the advent of social media – and Facebook in particular – we wouldn’t have all been sitting there on Saturday night enjoying a fabulous meal and talking until our voices were hoarse.

We wouldn’t have heard about each other’s kids, some of whom are as old as we were back then. We wouldn’t have heard about the good things that have happened to each of us. We wouldn’t have heard about stuff that hit us for six.

No, I don’t want to go back.

But I’ll happily bring my memories, hairspray and bad ’80s dance moves to any gathering involving these chicks. And I’m always open for holiday home invitations.

* If 10 seconds as an extra counts as starring.

’80s dance floor gold

I did a bit of Googling and here are some of the gems you would have found us dancing to on any given Friday night.  It really was a golden era for music, fashion and hair, yes? AHHH.

So tell me about your old friendships, friendships you made as young adults … do you still see each other? What do you remember most about them?

Comments 26

  1. I read this a week or two ago and bookmarked it to come back to. I love old friendships. I catch up with some of the school gang from time to time… and I think you know – my best friends today are two of the girls I met at Uni (and flatted with after).

    I never need to explain anything to them. They just ‘get’ me!

  2. I don’t see any school friends or work friends anymore. I moved away for uni and lost touch and although I am facebook ‘friends’ with many, I just haven’t seen any of them for over a decade now. It did get me down in the past but I did once read a blog post about how certain friends are in your life for a reason and for that time and I have now made peace with it. In fact, I was very much looking forward to our reunion to reconnect but as fate had it, I was in labour on the exact same day….. maybe not a coincidence? I think that if I did see them all, some of the memories might not be as fond anymore somehow…. like when you watch a movie from 20 years ago, it’s never usually as good. I have a different life now, we have little in common except our past, we are different people and I would prefer to focus my limited social time on the friends that are my ‘now’ people. Even though I still love them in my memory and the times we shared.

  3. oh wow, that brought back a lot of memories for me – some even make me blush and die of embarrassment all over again. I think I left Maryborough at the wrong time but I think my departure might have opened the door for one of your besties!

  4. this is a great story nikki!
    yes it’s great when old friends get together and it’s like you never left off! … albeit each person has had very different and varied lives!
    I think it’s a soul connection! like on the lovely blogs! ie yours!
    when my daughter lived in Cooroy and Pomona, we went up to gympie , marybourough and hervey bay (and further afield) but those queenslanders in Maryborough are a stand out for me they really are something special! … a pretty town on that great river!
    love m:)X

  5. I was in an all girls form in form 2 in 1974. 18 of us are in contact via facebook and for the last 4 years we have been catching up every few months for dinner the last being last Thursday. I love it. Some had been in touch over the years with others as you had with your group. Thank goodness for facebook l say.

  6. I’m the same vintage as you and have a group of girlfriends who came together at our first post Uni workplace. Some of us knew each other before from school or Uni and over the years we’ve picked up a couple of extras so we are now a group of 12 or so. We always get together for Christmas and try to make it happen during the year but it’s much less often than we would like. There’s 3 of us that live nearby so we’ve now implemented monthly meetings at one of our local wine bars – and 2 is a quorum. But these girls are the most wonderful friends. There has never been any competitiveness, just love and support. We’ve all shared the best of times and thankfully very few shattering times (yet). We still joke that when the kids are all grown up and we’ve outlived our hubbies we can go back to sharing a house together.

    1. Oh Emma … YES … my college friends and I used to joke that we’d all move into one of those retirement villages together while we still were active and pretend like it was just back at uni! Love it.

  7. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe we were in the same town at the same time. I am a little bit older than you Nikki, but my parents moved up to Maryborough in the mid 80’s ( a gorgeous Qld’er in Walker St,which is still there and which was the main Highway at the time) for my Dad’s work at Richers all that time ago and whilst I stayed behind on the North Coast at the time, we visited regularly with friends from my school days who practically lived out our house all the time, tagging along wanting to also see my parents, and all of us sleeping out on those huge wraparound Qld verandas and sleepout. We used to stagger home after a few too many at one of the many “establishments” Maryborough had to offer … memories and yes, I am still definitely friends with many of them eventhough we all live all over Australia now..Thanks for the smile 🙂

    1. We were probably carving up the dance floor at the Royal together Jennifer. It’s a very small world. And re the Queenslanders … it took a heritage expert arriving in 1988 from South Australia to value what Maryborough had in its houses. Thank goodness so many are now preserved!

      1. I thought I knew you from somewhere 🙂 I didn’t know that about the Queenslanders though, I must tell my Dad. Thank you.

        1. Hi Jennifer, is Parker your maiden name? It was mine and my dad also worked at Richers but probably not in the late 80s.

          1. Hi Sha,
            No, that is my married name. I am originally a Geitz, Dad was Errol.. Does that ring any bells? Mum and Dad were up there from around 1986 until 1996 from memory..

  8. Those were the glory days, weren’t they?! And those hits… the eighties were greaties! Growing up in London, I’m literally a world away from my oldest friends, some of whom I’ve been hanging out since the tender age of three, but when we catch up on my annual return to the mother country, the years disappear and it’s like we saw each other yesterday. I think the thing about real friends, is that the friendship doesn’t depend on you being together, you can always pick up where you left off!

  9. My bestie from uni lives in Melbourne, married to another from our year at uni – will be marvellous to be living in the same city again when we move there later this year. Another of our year is there and it will be great to catch up with her too. Tragically, the last time we were together was last September at the funeral of one of our close friends who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. We’re all still struggling with that loss. We had all managed to get to Adelaide at different times to spend a day with her – do you know, I can’t really remember what she and I talked about that day. Our kids, uni, mutual friends, stuff… We all had some crazy times together back in the day as students at the Conservatorium – I took photos of our parties to share with her, and photos of her busking with another classmate who died many years ago from melanoma. Thankfully, the memories will always be ours to enjoy, even when we’ve lost the people with whom we created them.

  10. This is lovely we are planning a catchup this year with friends I met when working at Myer back in the day was called Grace Brothers.We all had our babies around the same time and some girls have moved away but we remain friends still and I recently caught up with my old boss Diana she is still as stylish today as she was back then.
    Nikki you’ve brought back some memories mentioning expo 88 we went I was hugely pregnant with my son ,we went by coach never ever again shall I get on a bus anywhere,I love your photos I have quiet a few similar ones Xx

    1. Oh I can imagine that you were scarred by that coach experience! It was how we did it back then, didn’t we? Airfares were just too expensive. And I love that you meet up with the Grace Brothers’ friends – so many memories! x

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