EXCLUSIVE: Olympia Valance on the surprising reality of isolating with friends while separated from partner Tom Bellchambers

''We’ve definitely kept each other sane.''

By Maddison Hockey
Talented Australian actress Olympia Valance has gone from strength to strength since getting her start on iconic soap, Neighbours.
Following in the footsteps of her sister Holly Valance, who played Felicity Jane "Flick" Scully, Olympia instantly won over fans playing Paige Smith.
Moving on to Informer 3838, AFL drama Playing For Keeps and even finding love with her own footballer, Tom Bellchambers, Olympia's star power has continued to soar.
But, even the stunning 27-year-old hasn't been immune to the effects of the COVID pandemic.
Chatting to Now To Love, Olympia reveals how she's been making the most of isolation, being separated from Thomas and the possibility of a Neighbours return.
Olympia and Tom have been separated thanks to COVID travel restrictions. (Instagram)
You recently bought a gorgeous country home with your partner, how are you settling in?
We bought a place out in regional Victoria at the end of last year and we absolutely love it. We both have really busy schedules, so to have a space away from the city that allows us to really switch off and relax has been bliss.
We bought some chickens, which have become my pride and joy, and I've also taken up gardening, which is something I never thought I would say with excitement! It's just so cosy during winter, too. Waking up and heading out onto the deck to have my coffee while the sun rises over the hills has become my new favourite way to start the day.
Have you been isolating together there?
Tom had to relocate up to Queensland quite early on so he could continue playing football from the AFL hub. I've been isolating in Melbourne with two girlfriends, which has actually been an absolute blast. We've definitely kept each other sane during a time which has felt otherwise!
Instead, Olympia has been locked down with two of her closest friends. (Instagram)
How have you kept busy during the lockdown?
The pace of my life is normally very "go go go", so to actually force myself to slow down and be as present as possible has been nice. Partnering with Lavazza during this lockdown has been a godsend, too. I've tried a lot of different DIY coffees before, especially on sets like Neighbours and Playing for Keeps, and I say with wholehearted honesty that Lavazza's new Espresso Barista range outshines them all.
Their partnership with Duolingo also tapped into something I have always wanted to do, which is learn Italian. I feel like I have really up-skilled during all this time at home – I'm now spending my mornings learning Italian, while drinking Italian coffee!
What's it been like being separated from family members like your sister, Holly Candy, overseas?
We have a lot of family and friends overseas, across the UK and Europe, and it's definitely hard to not know when they'll be able to return. We had a trip planned to Greece, which obviously couldn't happen, so that was disappointing, but I also think perspective is really important too – I'm so incredibly lucky that everyone I love has stayed safe and healthy during this scary and risky time.
I know that one day we will be able to travel again and when we do, it will be that much sweeter.
Paige returned to Ramsay Street to marry love of her life, Mark (Scott McGregor). (Channel Ten)
You recently returned for Neighbours 35th anniversary and Paige had the happy ending she always deserved – how did it feel to wrap up her storyline like that?
It was just SUCH a joy! Scotty [McGregor] and I were both so thrilled that our characters finally got their happy ending. When it's meant to be, it's meant to be, and Paige and Mark were always destined for each other. We also just had the best time filming those scenes, it's definitely more fun to see the
wedding out, rather than getting arrested before it has even begun!
Did it feel like an end to the character?
It felt like the ending I always wanted for her. I wanted audiences to see her happy and shining and truly enjoying her life, she deserved that sort of joy. Paige had been put through the absolute ringer at times and overcame so much!
Would you ever return to play her again?
Never say never. I owe Neighbours so much, and I loved my time there. It was such a formative experience and I learnt a lot. I also trust Jason's [Herbison] vision for the show, so if Paige ever plausibly needed to return, well, you just never know!