ON AN early spring day in 1987, Quirindi teenager Ursula Barwick boarded a train to nowhere.
Like many girls her age, the 17-year-old was on a journey to find her true identity.
Where that journey took her remains an enduring mystery.
For the past 26 years, Ursula has been a missing person, her family and friends still waiting for a phone call that will likely never come.
“For so long, we just thought she would come back,” her cousin, Melissa Pouliot, said.
“Some of her friends think she’s still alive; while I hold out hope, I think she may have met with foul play.”
Ms Pouliot, who was also raised in Quirindi, recently published a book, Write About Me, based on Ursula’s story.
In the book, the protagonist, Annabelle, runs away from home and lands in seedy Kings Cross, a move that ultimately costs her her life.
“I just felt I had to write something,” Ms Pouliot said.
“My motivation was to honour Ursula’s memory and make a fuss about her.
“We’ve never had a funeral, never had a coronial inquest, never had a chance to celebrate her life.
“The reader of the book gets closure, but our family never did.”
Tragically, Ursula’s mother, Cheree, died nine years ago, sadly never able to learn how or why her daughter disappeared without a trace.
Gregarious, rebellious and family-oriented, Ursula moved from Quirindi to the Central Coast to live with her father in 1986.
She worked as a nanny in Sydney for a brief period, a stint which would later provide the only real clue in the case.
A year after she disappeared, the father of the child she nannied said he encountered a dishevelled and desperate Ursula in Kings Cross.
Not knowing she was a missing person, he directed her to the local women’s refuge. It was to be the last official sighting of her.