The officer was trying to soften the blow, but how could he? Rosie’s only child, 20-year-old Mia Ayliffe-Chung, had been murdered in the most horrific circumstances, stabbed in a backpacker hostel half a world away in remote north-eastern Queensland. It was incomprehensible. Rosie had only spoken to Mia that morning. “It was very distant from me. It was as if I was watching myself going through those motions. I didn’t feel panicked. I felt numb,” Rosie tells The Weekly as she recalls those minutes four-and-a-half years ago when “my reason for being was taken away”.
“Apparently denial is a form of coping strategy. You see, Mia was still in Australia as far as I was concerned. In my heart she was still out there. My brain knew that she was dead but I wasn’t accepting it. I didn’t accept it until Christmas [that year]. It took me five months to accept that she was dead.”
At the same time Rosie was hearing the terrible news, so was Mia’s father, Howard. The couple had tried for three years to get pregnant before Mia came along following a miscarriage, and while he and Rosie separated when Mia was barely three, leaving Rosie as the primary parent, Howard adored his daughter. “He was deeply shocked. He loved her very much,” says Rosie.
Light up a room
Mia was a chilled-out baby which Rosie jokes may have had something to do with Howard’s JamaicanChinese heritage and as she grew up developed an independent mind coupled with a zest for life and a deep sense of empathy. Rosie worked as a teacher and travel writer and from an early age Mia embraced different cultures and was eager to follow in her mum’s footsteps and travel the world.
Following the 9/11 attacks in the US, Rosie noticed a change in attitudes where they were living in south London and this, plus a desire for Mia to experience a country childhood, prompted her to move north. It was a big step for the single mum and Rosie was slightly concerned that Mia might face racism away from the multicultural capital.
“It was always a worry, moving into the great white hills here in Derbyshire, but this friend of mine, who was actually the head of year, took her into the classroom on the first day and she said all eyes were on Mia. She introduced the new girl and every hand in the class went up, particularly the boys: ‘Miss, can she sit next to me, she can sit next to me’.
“From then on, Mia was invited everywhere; she was very courted locally by older kids and younger kids and everybody. Her funeral was absolutely packed with young people – a thousand-plus not only in the church but all round the church.”
By all accounts Mia entranced everyone she met and Rosie saw a bright future for her little girl. “I told her that she could do anything she wanted to do,” says Rosie. “She had qualities that I didn’t have and didn’t have qualities that I did have. I was bookish and studious and she was this light – she lit up a room. When I said that to her she was absolutely delighted. I actually told her to forget university. You’re not that person. You are the front of house. You’ve got charisma, you’ve got other skills. You have the ability to lead.
“Mia was fun but very levelheaded. She didn’t discriminate between the in-crowd and everybody else. She had a love of humanity and she built bridges between different sets and communities. She was also ambitious – much more ambitious than I ever was. She wanted to make something of her life. She wanted to push herself. I think she saw Australia as a place where she could make that happen.”
When Mia made up her mind to go travelling in 2015 it was Rosie she turned to for advice. Rosie had travelled extensively in her 20s, including living in Turkey. Mia loved hearing her mum’s tales and Rosie says those stories definitely prompted a desire to explore the world in Mia.
But though excited, Mia was apprehensive. She planned a trip through Asia en route to Australia. “She said to me, ‘will I be all right?’” Rosie recalls. “I said make sure you’ve got people who will look out for you, and dress appropriately. Look around you at how people are dressing and dress as they do.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
“I might die, and you're the only one I can tell...”- Sharon Stone
The Hollywood star reveals the harrowing details of the night family and friends rushed to her bedside as doctors fought to save her life.
How we stay married …Peter & Bridget Helliar
The comedian may have written a show about maintaining a long-lasting relationship, but it’s his wife Bridget whom he credits with teaching him how to keep the marital magic alive.
The year that tested Gladys
The NSW Premier has steered her state through fires, floods and a pandemic, and had a secret relationship publicly outed. Gladys Berejiklian suffered some chinks in her armour, but The Weekly finds she’s still standing resolutely and defiantly strong.
The cult of wellness
The “wellness” industry generates trillions of dollars but is it making any of us well, or just an unregulated, untested con?
Could she be innocent?
She has been called Australia’s worst female serial killer, but now some of the world’s most brilliant scientific minds say Kathleen Folbigg’s four children could have died of natural causes.
How to start a kindness revolution
The worst times often bring out the best in human nature, so don’t waste what you have learned in this global crisis.
Nowhere to run
People living in remote Australia are 24 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family and domestic abuse
Carla Zampatti 1942 - 2021 Family always came first
Just before Christmas, Carla Zampatti invited The Weekly into her Sydney home for a deeply personal photo shoot with her daughters and five of her grandchildren. No one could have imagined that this joyous day would be the iconic fashion queen’s last major interview.
Who was that girl?
When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying $600 and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for something. One month later, she’s an unidentified murder victim. But who was she?
The Duke of Edinburgh 1921 - 2021 Prince among men
He was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, became a brilliant British naval officer, but chose love and a life of unfailing public service as the Queen’s devoted consort.
AUSTRALIA PLANS TO SPEND $417M ON HYDROGEN, CARBON CAPTURE
Australia’s prime minister has proposed spending an extra 539 million Australian dollars ($417 million) on hydrogen and carbon sequestration projects, seeking to burnish his government’s green credentials ahead of a climate summit to be hosted by President Joe Biden.
TRIED AND TESTED HOTEL: W South Beach, Miami Beach
BEST FOR Playfully chic interior décor and a happening pool scene
Think Local, Eat Global
The culinary scene in Miami’s South Beach is an international adventure
Plini – Voices in The Sky
PLINI — the guy Steve Vai once called “the future of exceptional guitar playing” — discusses the perils of “guitar fame,” the challenges of a modern prog-rocker and his breathtaking new album, Impulse Voices
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
The usurper has come
Giant squirrels, giant lessons? Animal chaplain SARAH BOWEN explores what squirrels can show us about mindfulness.
THE HORSE MEAT VIGILANTE
In a fetid Florida backwater, butchers operate black-market equine slaughterhouses. One man is determined to end the trade
Scott's MID-LIFE MAKEOVER!
AFTER HIS SPLIT FROM 22-YEAR-OLD SOFIA RICHIE, SCOTT DISICK GOES INSTA OFFICIAL WITH HIS NEW MODEL — AND A NEW ’DO.
A Certain Southern Gothic
' I Didn't Want Him To Do It, Mama!'
New video shows Dylan Farrow, 7, claiming sex abuse by Woody Allen