Kevin Murphy, international editorial stylist and creator of KEVIN.MURPHY haircare
Mum was a single parent so we never went on holidays or travelled but I was invited by a friend of the family to go to Sydney and I loved it at first sight. Swept up in its bohemian spirit, I was surrounded by hippies and artists who were so far removed from my life in Melbourne. It was a world of cool creativity and I was like a sponge drawing inspiration from every aspect of the city. Sydney showed me that it was okay to be different and to be myself.
When I first went to London to study at Vidal Sassoon I felt like a country bumpkin in the big city. I had no confidence and spent my time apologising for being Australian, as I thought they were all going to be so much better than me. I soon realised that I was just as well trained as the Europeans. The experience made me realise that anything was possible if I just believed in myself, and that no matter how much money you have or where you come from means nothing when you are determined to make a name for yourself.
It was the first time I experienced extreme poverty first-hand. Seeing communities living in such poor conditions is tough, but when you hear the laughter and see the happiness you realise how at peace with life the Vietnamese are. I heard laughter everywhere and was greeted by smiling faces daily. I loved the beauty of Vietnam, which is so rich in culture and its people who are so proud of their roots and preserving their traditions and history.
I long for Byron, as there really is no other place on Earth quite like it. I've holidayed there since the '80s and have seen it change and grow over the years. I remember the hippies fighting for a no high-rise policy and how they battled to retain the relaxed way of life that makes Byron such a unique place. Everyone is accepted in Byron, no matter their colour, race or creed, gender – gay or straight – all are welcome and accepted.
The UN and Australia had just begun a peacekeeping mission in East Timor and Kylie Minogue was going in to entertain the troops. I was there to do her hair and makeup. I had never experienced conflict or seen the destruction it causes, neither had I seen selflessness like I saw throughout the army, with every soldier being so kind, helpful and caring. To see so much destruction and how these soldiers coped with it all was a humbling experience and gave me so much respect for what they do for all of us each and every day.