When I call Carrie for our interview, things sound a little chaotic in the background, and I’m not surprised. She’s juggling home-schooling three young children with Melbourne in lockdown, plus she works full-time as a host on Network 10’s news and current affairs program, The Project. Carrie also co-hosts a daily radio show across the Hit Network.
Now that’s busy!
But Carrie Bickmore (1997) is calm and kind. She settles the kids and then generously dives in for a wonderful reflection on her years at Perth College.
We also explore her life after school – her successes, including a Gold Logie, as well as the profound sadness of losing her husband to brain cancer.
"I have very fond memories of school,” Carrie beams. “I began in Year 6 which was the last year of primary school back then. I remember it all felt a bit overwhelming at first, but it was such a nurturing school and I felt at home very quickly."
Carrie says her mum chose Perth College because it had an excellent reputation for educating girls.
"Mum is an educator and she knew what women, girls were capable of and Perth College was very good at that too,” Carrie says, adding with a laugh “the slogan 'confident young women' still sticks in my head”.
While born in Adelaide, Carrie grew up in the Perth hills suburb of Glen Forrest and lived with her mum, stepfather and his two daughters who also attended PC. She admits the non-traditional family had its challenges, but at school, anything was possible.
"For me it was just like, of course you can have a crack, you can do anything you want to do. You can achieve anything,” she states.
“That’s how I’ve been raised, but that’s how I felt at school as well."
“There was nothing that Perth College didn’t think we could be and that was a really wonderful environment to do our learning in.”
The popular broadcaster began her career as a radio newsreader, but dance was her first love and, with self-deprecating humour, she reveals her Year 12 leadership role.
"I think it was the first year they ever had a Vice Dance Captain,” she giggles “because I was never ever going to be good enough to be a Dance Captain.”
But dance and her teacher, Angela Perry, gave Carrie confidence.
“She made school just so awesome for me. She had so much belief in me and really encouraged me into leadership roles and she was a beautiful soul.”
Carrie’s passion for dance, however, didn’t impress the School’s Careers Advisor.
"I remember her saying ‘what do you like doing’ and I said 'I like talking and dancing' and she said 'well you’re never going to make a career out of dancing’ which I was slightly offended by at the time,” she laughs.
The Careers Advisor then added 'if you like talking, why don’t you study journalism?’
Carrie heeded that advice and graduated in Journalism from Curtin University. She then took a job at 92.9 FM and, while cliched, it’s cute – the news reader fell in love with handsome sports reporter, Greg Lange, and the ambitious couple moved to Melbourne.
Carrie read her first bulletin for NOVA FM on her 21st birthday.
But the fairytale ride was soon dealt a tragic blow when Greg was diagnosed with brain cancer.
"It forced me to grow up very, very, very quickly. It was a really scary, hard time and that was for me, let alone what it was like for Greg."
The pair soldiered on and enjoyed a beautiful wedding in 2005 before they had their son, Oliver, in 2007.
Tragically, Greg died in 2010 aged just 35.
“It was just a frightening decade to be honest and every step of the way we were just learning. It’s just not anything one would assume they’d be doing in their 20s,” Carrie says softly.
“But one thing I've learned over the years is I’m certainly not alone. Everyone has their journey, and for a lot of people, it involves pain. It just came to us earlier.”
Carrie says it took her a long time before she could talk about brain cancer, however, during her 2015 Gold Logie acceptance speech, she donned a beanie to raise awareness of her late husband's battle.
"I didn’t ever plan on raising any money, I just wanted to raise awareness and get government funding. But I set up my foundation because so many people were saying they’d love to help and donate.”
Donate they did. Since then, 'Carrie's Beanies 4 Brain Cancer’ has raised almost $20 million.
"I’m so proud, not only for me, but it’s a legacy for Greg and our son Oli to know that there’s some way we can channel some of that pain into something that, well I feel like it gives us a purpose and some meaning."
Thankfully, the next decade was much kinder on this PC Old Girl.
She expanded her profile on The Project, won her Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality and, in 2017, she was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll for Women for her charity work. Then, two years later she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her media work and brain cancer awareness. Carrie also began co-hosting a popular daily radio show.
So, what’s this ‘golden girl’s’ take on all that success? Is it ambition? Luck? Raw talent?
"I certainly don’t think it’s raw talent!” she roars with laughter. "I worked my absolute butt off, I don’t know any other way.”
"Mum worked incredibly hard and she was my role model and dad always said ‘keep working hard and someone will notice and give you an opportunity’ and he was right.”
PC played its part too, Carrie says: “We were always made to feel like anything was possible as a woman in this world."
This mother of three is in that busy phase of life. Her son, Oliver, is now 13 and she has two beautiful daughters too with partner Chris Walker, Evie and Adelaide.
"I’m just so lucky I’ve got an incredibly supportive partner and I’m so thankful to have a job I like going to every day. I just feel so bloody lucky to be honest.”
You’ve earned that luck, Carrie. Thank you so much for sharing your journey so far. Your strength shines through.