It was to be a quick fortnight stay in Sydney during which Miming Listiyani could say goodbye to her friends before she moved back to Jakarta.

Ms Listiyani, an advertising graduate from the University of Technology, Sydney, was "finally catching her dream", friends say, and was going home to set up a pastry kitchen.

But five days after she arrived back in Australia, police found Ms Listiyani's naked body floating in water near Cabarita ferry wharf, in Sydney's inner west, just before midnight on Thursday.

There were cuts to her face, and her body was floating in about 30 centimetres of water.

Her friend, Khanh Thanh Ly, 35, was allegedly also naked and standing over her body.

Paramedics tried to revive her but believe she may have been dead for some time before they arrived.

Mr Ly, who came to public attention as a "lieutenant" in a drug syndicate that also involved executed Bali nine members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, was arrested and charged with her murder.

Close friends of Ms Listiyani have told Fairfax Media that the pair were at one time very close and had visited Jakarta together but that she had kept their friendship secret from almost everyone because of Mr Ly's background.

Those who did know of their friendship say they were not in a romantic relationship at the time of Ms Listiyani's death and did not know of Mr Ly's past.

The pair met in recent years when Ms Listiyani was studying to become a pastry chef.

The Indonesian national, who attended high school in Singapore, graduated from UTS in 2010.

She worked as a marketing manager and part-time journalist at AusIndo Media in Melbourne, but her real passion was cooking.

Friends say she recently had been studying to become a pastry chef at the prestigious culinary arts school Le Cordon Bleu Australia at Ryde while working for her father's automobile spare-parts business.

Her father was her No.1 supporter, she told friends.

Her social media accounts are full of photos from cafes and restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and across Asia as well as of her own culinary creations. In one photo she is standing with renowned pastry chef Adriano Zumbo.

A close friend said Ms Listiyani had most recently been back in Jakarta with her family but had come back to Australia last Saturday to keep her permanent residency arrangements in place.

She was also coming back to tell her friends in Australia her plans for her own pastry kitchen.

"Just before she flew back to Sydney she was talking to me about setting up her own pastry kitchen," the friend said. "She was so happy she was finally catching her dream."

The friend said there was a lot of disbelief among those who knew Ms Listiyani that she could be killed in such a violent manner.

"She was the most outgoing and smart woman," the friend said. "She never judged people, she was friends with absolutely everyone and anyone. She never bitched about anyone and was accepted everywhere."

Mr Ly did not apply for bail and it was formally refused when he appeared via video link in Parramatta Local Court on Saturday.

Detectives spent Friday retracing Ms Listiyani's final steps through at least three suburbs, carrying out searches at Cabarita nearby Breakfast Point and at Mr Ly's home at Lidcombe.

Source: The Herald