My very first memories of this place come from photographs taken by my father when I was too young to remember.

Swans on the Danube, misty fog in the autumn and snow in winter. Memories of photographs of feeding swans, of sledding through the streets of Aschach and bright eyes full of wonder.

For 25 years my life was filled with hot summers, blue skies, arid landscapes and snow capped mountains were just some myth of nature. Austria could not have been further from my mind.

That began to change when I came back here with my father. It was a wonder to me and an emotional homecoming for him. For most of that visit we left my father to reacquaint himself with family and friends while we played tourists. When it was time to return to Australia the goodbyes were very intense full of tears and emotion as my father knew then it would be last time he would see Aschach, the Danube and his childhood friends.

After that first homecoming it was another 13 years before I would be back here in Aschach and it was then that I experienced a profound shift in my feelings for this place. My family and I felt a welcoming connection which was quite different from the first time. We spent all of our time here with family and friends and the beauty of the Austrian countryside became incidental.

It was then I made a promise to myself, to my Austrian and my Australian families that I would never let the connection slip again and we would come back as often as we can. And we do.

Photo: Robert Rath, ‘Homecoming’, 1/200s f/13 ISO640 17mm

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