The first time Home And Away was nominated for a TV WEEK Logie Award, Kate Ritchie was heartbroken to learn she wouldn't be able to attend.
Then again, she was just 10 years old at the time, having joined the cast of Channel Seven's new drama as Sally Fletcher shortly before her ninth birthday.
"I always felt so left out in those early years," Kate recalls with a smile. Kate was the youngest member of the Home And Away cast when the show received its first Logie nomination for Most Popular Series in the 1989 awards, held in March that year in Melbourne.
"I just wanted to go to the party with all the big people and put on a pretty frock and drink faux champagne or something," she laughs.
Fortunately, her Summer Bay castmates decided that because she couldn't go to the awards, they would bring the awards to her.
"On the Friday before the Logies that year, the older cast, crew and our production office planned a special lunch in honour of me because I wasn't going," Kate remembers fondly.
"I received flowers and a little teddy bear – and even a fake Oscar award that read: 'Kate Ritchie, the best actress in Summer Bay'."
Kate says she still has the mock award all these years later.
"It sits beside my Logies at home," she confesses.
The Logies Kate mentions so casually are the two Golds she went on to win in 2007 and 2008.
By then, Kate had played Sally in Home And Away for 20 years. Australia had watched her grow up on screen and blossom into a star.
Kate says some of her fondest memories of playing Sally include being sung to by Aussie pop legend John Farnham, and her first sex scene with a young Heath Ledger.
The role also saw her shot and stabbed. She survived cancer, found her lost brother, was married (more than once!) and became a mum during her two dramatic decades in the popular drama. In short, Kate played every emotion possible and the fans responded by twice naming her The Most Popular Personality On Australian Television – in 2007 and 2008.
"I've always been incredibly proud of my time with Home And Away," she says. "And I continue to be proud – not only that Home And Away continues, but that it goes from success to success."