Lee Smith was a gangly, inquisitive 16-year-old when he scored his first job vacuuming and making coffee at a small production company, Film Production Services, in the northern Sydney suburb of Crows Nest.
Almost 40 years later Smith walked up the hallowed steps to the stage inside Hollywood's Dolby Theatre to accept an Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony for his editing on Christopher Nolan's World War II epic, Dunkirk.
It was third time lucky for Smith, who was nominated but missed out on Oscars for The Dark Knight in 2009 and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World in 2004.
"I have been very intense up to this particular moment, so I feel so much better now," a relieved Smith, who for months had been touted as favourite for the award, told reporters backstage.
He said it was his time at the Crows Nest production house, where he had the opportunity to learn from Australian film making greats including Peter Weir, Jane Campion, Phil Noyce, Gillian Armstrong and George Miller when they stopped by, that led him on his path to the Oscar.
Smith said he had "a couple of parties to go to" but he might not stay out too late as he was in the middle of editing his latest project in Los Angeles, X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Smith was Australia's lone win, with Margot Robbie, for I, Tonya, missing out on best actress to Frances McDormand for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Smith beat another Australian editor, Melbourne-born Paul Machliss, who was nominated for Baby Driver.
Australian duo Josh Lawson and Derin Seale were bypassed in the live action short Oscar category for their comedy The Eleven O'Clock.