It's been five years since she's walked the sandy golden beaches of Summer Bay but this week Gold Logie-winning actress *Kate Ritchie *has revealed that she is returning to Seven's hit soap, Home and Away.

Speaking exclusively to New Idea magazine - out today- the 34-year-old actress said since departing the show in 2007, she never considered returning to the Bay as her much-loved character, Sally Fletcher, who many Australians would have watched blossom into a woman on the small screen.

She admitted it took a lot of courage to walk away from the long-running drama, which turned her into a household name.

"It's funny because I'd never considered going back," Ritchie, right, told the magazine . "It took me such a long time to pluck up the courage to leave Home and Away, that making a return visit was never on the agenda."

Unlike former Summer Bay expat, *Perth *-raised *Melissa George *- who last year castigated the media for constantly bringing up her stint on the series - Ritchie was proud of her TV roots.

"I guess I'm not like Melissa," she said.

In the five years that she's been absent from Home and Away's sunny coastal community, Ritchie continued to show her face on the small screen, landing a meaty role in the second Underbelly series and also a role on Nine's now defunct police drama, Cops L.A.C. She also kept busy hosting the Nova 96.9 breakfast show with comedy duo *Merrick and Rosso *.

'It took me

such a long time to pluck up the courage to leave Home and Away, that making a return visit was never on the agenda.'

The West Australian

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