Two years ago, neighbours from properties at Condobolin, NSW, Sophie Kirk and Matilda Stuckey, became roommates at Ravenswood, cementing their friendship.

Story Ken Eastwood

When Merino and cropping farmers the Kirks and the Stuckeys were working out where to send their daughters to boarding school, they occasionally had a yarn over the back fence about possibilities. Their two girls were then a year apart and knew each other from the local primary school, but they weren’t close friends or intending to go to school together. 

Then, independently, both families decided to send their daughters to Ravenswood, in Sydney, six hours’ drive away, when they applied for, and received, rural scholarships that help with boarding fees. At that stage they were the only children from western NSW out of the 50 boarders and, not surprisingly, Sophie Kirk and Matilda ‘Tilly’ Stuckey became roommates, then best friends. “It went well that they went together, and having a close friend at the school like that is very good because they don’t get as lonely,” says Sophie’s dad Tom. “We’ve had a great experience since then. Sophie thinks it’s a never-ending sleepover, basically.”

Now in year 9, Sophie says now almost one-third of the boarders are from rural areas, and she is currently roommates with a girl from Griffith. “Boarding was kind of different to what I expected,” she says. “I always thought boarding school would be you just are friends with people in your year, but I’ve become really good friends with year 11 girls. It feels more like a family than a school.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #131

Outback Magazine: June/July 2020