Trigger warning: this article contains references to domestic and family violence that may be upsetting for some readers.
Rebecca Gibney is practically unrecognisable in a series of childhood throwbacks she shared on Tuesday morning to honour her mum, Shirley.
Taking to Instagram to mark her mother’s birthday, the 57-year-old released a series of previously unseen photos from her days growing up in New Zealand.
The first picture showed mum Shirley posing with Rebecca’s father, Austin, whom she shared a complicated relationship with due to his abuse and alcoholism.
But the images then turned to happier memories, like a trip to the beach, two packed family snaps and a stunning portrait of a young Rebecca smiling with her mum.
The actress is almost unrecognisable in the black and white throwback, which appears to have been snapped in the ’80s if her hairstyle is anything to go by.
Describing her mother as a “matriarch, warrior, carer, friend” and, most importantly, “one of a kind”, Rebecca penned a touching tribute to the woman who raised her.
“Today we celebrate your birthday and I cannot wait to hug you in person and to tell you yet again how much I love you and how very grateful I am for your beautiful heart,” the actress wrote.
“The world became a much brighter place the day you were born. You are the definition of the bee’s knees, the ant’s pants, the top of the pops, the cat’s pyjamas, and the cherry on top.”
Rebecca signed off by dubbing Shirley the “bestest of the best” alongside some more recent snaps of them together, then wished her mum the happiest of birthdays.
Taking to the comments section, Shirley replied with a sweet missive of her own where she proved she can “cliché out” as well as her daughter can.
“Thank you darling. You always manage to put a smile on my dial to start any day off on the right foot,” she wrote.
“You do tend to exaggerate more than a little, but I love you very much and take it with a bucket load of salt.”
Fans and friends were delighted by the mother-daughter duo’s sweet social media interaction, especially given no one expected Shirley to have her own account and respond to Rebecca’s post.
The Packed To The Rafters star has a close bond with her mother, made all the more unbreakable by the hardships they both endured living with Rebecca’s abusive father.
WATCH: Rebecca Gibney stops to chat on the TV WEEK Logie Awards red carpet in 2019. Story continues after video.
“My father was an alcoholic. It scarred all of us,” Rebecca told ABC reporter Andrew Denton in 2009.
“My mother shielded us a lot from it. I could remember her putting us to bed and I, quite often, would hear Dad come home but she’d always shut all the doors, so you’d hear the yelling and the shouting and the slapping, but you’d never actually see it.”
The 57-year-old went on to say that Shirley moved her and her five siblings around more than 40 times in as a result of Austin’s violence, but “made it an adventure” for the children to protect them.