Having brothers meant that we’d spend days playing in our big garden among old pine trees and make cubby houses. I was very close to Hamilton. We weren’t allowed to watch television, so we spent our days creating imaginary characters.
I was very protective of Henry as a child because I was worried the other two would gang up on him. Having brothers meant there was lots of rough play and teasing as well.
I went to Canberra Girls Grammar, but it was actually the headmaster of the boys’ school, Tim Murray, who gave me the confidence to believe I could act. We would do joint plays with the boys and he made me feel like I could do it.
As a teenager, I had a crush on actors Luke Perry and Jason Priestley in Beverly Hills, 90210. I also loved Bill Oddie from The Goodies – I thought he was amazing.
My first kiss was with a guy under the snow-making machine at Perisher, in the Snowy Mountains in NSW. It was a very cold night and we were on a family holiday. I was 16.
Actor Patrick Brammall went to Marist College in Canberra and we got to know each other at our year 8 school social. We had our first “dirty dance” there, slow-dancing to Now You’re in Heaven by Julian Lennon.
“I hung up and thought I could talk to him forever; I fell in love with his voice.”
I never feared boys – having brothers took the intrigue of boys away. I also wasn’t in any hurry for a boyfriend.
I was 18 when I started my first proper relationship. We started going out before I went overseas and it ended when I took off. I worked in a pub in Cambridge, England, for six months and then travelled with a friend.
When I returned to Australia, I studied acting at the University of Western Sydney and then got into the Victorian College of the Arts [VCA] in 1997 to 1999. Dad always encouraged me to do what I loved; both parents were great supporters and saw that acting made me happy.
While studying at the VCA, I dated an Italian guy, Oliviero Papi. He was beautiful and a fantastic cook. He always cared for me in that way. He was very sweet. I also dated a guy, Gareth, who was friends with my brother Hamilton, for 2½ years.
My husband [Peter Carstairs] cast me in his first feature film, September. It was filmed around Yass in NSW and at the time I was working on Sea Patrol and couldn’t make rehearsals. Peter wanted to chat with me, and it was during that phone call that we talked and talked. I hung up and thought I could talk to him forever; I fell in love with his voice. He grew up on a farm north of Geraldton in WA; his dad was a wheat farmer.
We started dating in 2007 and got married in 2010. We had our first child, Albie, in 2011 – he’s eight now. Albie was followed by Freddy, who’s five, and Audrey, 18 months.
Actor Russell Dykstra is one of my best friends and was the MC at our wedding. We met doing a Belvoir St play directed by Richard Roxburgh in the mid-2000s. We’ve remained friends, bonding over exchanging recipes and a shared sense of humour.
Being married to Peter is amazing because we challenge each other. He keeps me learning about myself and continues to guide me to be my authentic self and to have a voice. That’s what I love most about him.
Sibylla Budd is in Operation Buffalo, now screening on ABC iView.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale July 19.
Jane Rocca is a regular contributor to Sunday Life Magazine, Executive Style, The Age EG, columnist and features writer at Domain Review, Domain Living’s Personal Space page. She is a published author of four books.