Although his parents had settled in Adelaide, from a young age Hans visited Hahndorf, a small town in the Adelaide Hills that was an important centre of German immigration. Hahndorf’s Lutheran churches, German businesses, brilliant sunshine and abundant nature were at once familiar and seductively exotic. Following their marriage, Hans and Sallie Heysen moved to a rented cottage in Billygoat Lane, Hahndorf. In the same year, an enormously successful Melbourne exhibition of Hans’s work was opened by the prime minister, Alfred Deakin; this was an important milestone for Hans on the path to widespread recognition and financial stability.
In 1912, the year after Nora’s birth, and following another successful Melbourne exhibition, the family purchased The Cedars, an expansive country property in Hahndorf. The house was furnished in the Arts and Crafts style, in keeping with the ‘Truth to Nature’ doctrine that permeated Hans’s, and later Nora’s, art. In England, Hans acquired decorative arts from Morris & Co. and furniture in the style of Liberty and Co. Later, he collected Chinese and Japanese textiles, which featured as backdrops in his still-life painting, as they did in Nora’s. The much-loved home and Hahndorf landscape provided comfort in times of isolation and a secure base from which both artists could branch out with assurance.