It's a landscape born of ice and rock; beautiful and picturesque, hailed as one of creation's summits. Yet this valley in central Austria has been smashed and broken, crushed and teased, sunk and raised again by nature's forces; a haunt and habitat for both man and animal, offering no easy life to either. Our senses satiated by the stunning peaks, sheer black cliffs and dark blue lakes, we might miss the real sources of life, deep inside the mountains: salt, and water. A source of wealth, exploitation, anarchy, isolation - and zest for life.
This is a dense world of extremes and contrasts: cold winters weighed down by snow and frequent avalanches, followed by warm, humid summers; and the conflict of powerful, colorful traditions encountering the forces of modernity. Like a storybook, Ausseerland is a highly compressed universe: here proud red deer observe the humans, while people prefer to measure each other up. Meadows full of daffodils -elsewhere a brief reminder of spring - here become the centre of a giant festival that attracts thousands of people, and dollars, to the region. This landscape is shared with wildlife as well. The peaks of the desert-like mountain ranges are the realm of deer and chamois. In the forests wild boar roam, and in the cool mountain lakes, with their secret underground inlets, the char is king, challenged by both the fishermen and by more recent visitors, the elegant black cormorants.