A family divided by almost 16,000km has been reunited once again after seven years.
Denmark man and former exchange student in Gunnedah, Kristian Thomsen, has returned to the shire to spend time with Brian and Anne Riordan, his former host family.
Mr Thomsen first came to Gunnedah as a 19-year-old in 1977, as part of the Rotary exchange program. He stayed with the Riordans for some of that year while studying at Gunnedah High School.
For the most part, the two families have kept in touch via letters, with the odd international call in the mix every now and then, too.
The Riordans and the Thomsens have visited each other in their home countries numerous times.
Mr Thomsen is here with his youngest daughter, Laura, and his wife, Lis, and Mr Riordan said he was glad to have them back.
"After 42 years, they're family to us," he said.
"We hosted him as a 19-year-old 42 years ago - well, that's a lifetime - and we've been to Denmark twice and they come out here, so it's a family spread apart."
'A lifelong experience'
Mr Thomsen said both the exchange program and frequent visits had been of great benefit to him and his family.
"It's been a lifelong experience to have friends on the other side of the world and ... it certainly broadened my mind about many things when I was here [on exchange]," he said.
"It helped my English language a lot, so it's been of great benefit having that year here as an exchange student and also to be able to keep the good contacts through the years."
Mr Thomsen is also a leading heart surgeon in his country: he heads up the cardiology department at the hospital in south-west Jutland.
"At that time [in 1977] I knew I was going on to study medicine, and I did biology [at Gunnedah High School]," Mr Thomsen said.
He said improving his English "helped quite a bit" when he returned to his Danish education.
"The others had to work much harder looking up what the words meant."
It brings much more into people's lives that they are unaware of.Kristian Thomsen on exchange programs
Mr Thomsen said the region had changed a lot since his first visit in 1977, the drought being one of the major differences.
"We've never seen it dry like this in these areas," he told the Namoi Valley Independent.
"It looks a bit sad, but it's also an experience to see what they have been talking about."
The two families took a short flight over the region on Thursday morning "to see how dry it is".
"We went to see a couple of the mines from above [too] because that's all new, [they weren't] here when I was here the first time," Mr Thomsen said.
'A tremendously good idea'
Mr Thomsen's daughter, Laura, is interested in applying for an exchange when she returns to Denmark. She's thinking of spending time in the USA.
He said it was great she was interested in it, and encouraged other young people to take part in an exchange, too.
He hoped his experience would "inspire some young people that it's a tremendously good idea to try exchange".
"It brings much more into people's lives that they are unaware of," Mr Thomsen said.
"When I was here, it was a terrific exchange program - we had this three-week tour of the coast and into central Australia with the other Rotary students."