What do you get when you combine a German, a British National, an Italian and two Aussies? A multicultural experience on a multi-day hike.

This little international band of keen hikers formed around February 2022 while on a group hike I’d organised between Berowra and Cowan, and has since evolved into a group of seven ‘Keen Beans’ (that’s our hiking group name).

Since forming this group, my messenger feed is constantly clogged up with inspirational hiking destinations, dates, the latest news on track closures and gadgets, how we can incorporate the monthly day hike with a pub along the way, as well as the usual banter between people from around the world.

After getting to know each other a little better on a few shorter day walks, we voted that our first overnight hike should be relatively easy, i.e. no 1000m of elevation, no 30km days and within a 2-hour driving distance of home.



A simple out and back hike at Myall Lakes National Park was in order: 20km all up, lovely campgrounds (with toilets!), right next to picturesque Palmers Bay.

The beginning of our hike was coincidently typical of our cultural background. The German was two hours early, the Aussies were on time, while the Brit and Italian lost their way and were over an hour late!

Forgiveness for this late start could only be obtained from the fact that the Italian had brought Fireball whiskey – a warm and sweet drink that ‘puts fire in the belly and warms the cockles’ as my mother says (what’s cockles anyway?) and is now a ‘must have’ on my packing list. While the Brit promised morning espressos from his fancy hiking coffee maker.

The surrounding landscape of the hike was predominantly wetland full of lovely tall eucalypts, paperbarks, sharp sedges, and tiny birds before it merged under a dense forest canopy for the last 3km and finally came out to Shelly Beach Campground.



It turns out we’d selected the right weekend, as we were the only ones at the campground. Once our sleeping quarters were set up, we picked the best fire pit available, right between the She oaks that protected us from the wind but still allowed for epic stargazing.

The next morning, I was the first to brave the two-degree temperatures and was rewarded with a blue and pink sunrise over the water.



We’re not hardcore hikers in any way and after a broken sleep, which is usually associated with camping, that promised coffee went down a treat and all was well in the world.

The hike in and out along with the chatter around the campfire was full of interesting stories of life experiences, cross-culture traditions and ideas. From traditional salami making, our forefathers’ role in the World Wars, life in the army, migration, family in Australia and in essence, how we came to be where we were standing, at that moment in time, around a campfire on the mid-North Coast of NSW.


A German, an Italian, a Brit, and Two Aussies Walk Into The Bush, Emma griffiths

Still Smiling