Born in Newcastle, Australia, Nicki started her musical training at age four with the piano, followed by the flute, soon after. Nicki switched to double bass at the age of 15.
After graduating high school she moved to Sydney to study jazz at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music where she began to play with Australian musicians such as Mike Nock, Dale Barlow, Paul Grabowsky, Bernie McGann, and Ten Part Invention. She also toured Australia with Russian musicians Daniel Kramer and Alexander Fischer and American trumpeters Bobby Shew and Chuck Findley. She continued her studies with various bassists including visiting artists Ray Brown and John Clayton.