It's almost that time again: the annual November and December pilgrimage of school leavers. They let their hair down and celebrate the end of years of blood, sweat and tears and the HSC. Most, but not everyone, head to the Gold Coast. The Sunshine Coast, Airlie Beach, Magnetic Island, Byron Bay in New South Wales and Lorne in Victoria are also popular sunny destinations.
It's a worrying time for parents and we asked Jason Dundas to visit the Gold Coast to gather information about what goes on there. He's been there and done that himself so has personal hints as well.
The first suggestion is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.
Schoolies.com is a great place to start for a safe experience. It's the brainchild of Luke Jamieson and with 20 years of experience focusing on schoolies, the emphasis is on safety.
The company will spend more than $1 million on security at events this year. They provide photo ID tags to registered guests. People not staying there cannot enter the building. The tags allow access to rooms only by those registered for that room. Guards have a photo sheet to check IDs, so if someone happens to find one and tries to gain entry, it just won't happen.
The Mantra Circle on Cavill Avenue is listed with Schoolies.com. Right in the heart of the action of Surfers Paradise, so car rental isn't necessary. One less thing to worry about!
Mantra has two residential towers with 179 spacious one-, -two and three- bedroom apartments with ocean or hinterland views. They are airy and open plan and all have kitchens. Perfect for schoolies on a budget!
Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, are air-conditioned, have laundry facilities, broadband Internet access, LCD, TV, cable TV and DVD players.
There's a 25m outdoor pool and spa, indoor sauna and steam room and barbecue area. The hotel sits above Circle on Cavill Shopping Centre and many restaurants will deliver food straight to your room.
Even if junk food is only allowed on special occasions at home, you can bet it will be the main diet during schoolies. Schoolies.com has free voucher books which give discounts on a stack of food shops around Surfers.
Police, emergency services, security guards and officials maintain a highly visible presence during schoolies. They provide the community and visitors with support and assistance.
One important key to having a great time is knowing that parents are assured everyone is well prepared and aware of some of the unfortunate pitfalls.
Binge drinking is way too common and injuries and assaults often stem from that. Drink spiking and drug taking are also of great concern. Toolies are uninvited hangers on who often cause a lot of trouble when they try to join in. They're generally older than most of the partygoers and many just go there to take advantage of the inexperience of schoolies. They should certainly be avoided.
Many schoolies are under the legal age to consume alcohol or even enter nightclubs. This is strictly policed. Various underage events are held on the Surfers beachfront. Dance parties, concerts and movie screenings are happening all the time.
During the first week, the central section of Surfers Paradise Esplanade and beach are fenced every night for exclusive access by schoolies. Known as Schoolies Hub, it hosts free entertainment between 7.30pm and 1.30am.
An official wristband is required and it can be obtained on proof of year 12 student photo ID. A learner driver's licence or Australian passport may be considered. Schoolies who have booked through Schoolies.com can collect their wristband from a Red Frogs volunteer. A team of 350 support volunteers patrol the beach and streets giving advice, information, walking teens home and generally helping out wherever needed.
World champion surfer Cheyne Horan's surf school at Surfers Paradise is the perfect thing for schoolies. He takes most of the classes but also has several teachers who teach his own techniques. It's safe and doesn't require ultra fitness or strength. He has students standing and surfing in the first lesson. They provide equipment to suit individual needs.
Queensland's Gold Coast.
Cheyne Horan School of Surf costs $45 for one lesson, $115 for three lessons plus a T-shirt and $169 for five lessons plus a T-shirt and Learn to Surf
DVD. Private lessons are $100 an hour.
Virgin Blue has flights to the Gold Coast one-way from:
- Sydney $79
- Canberra and Melbourne $99
- Adelaide $145
- Hobart $169
- Perth $269
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at July 8, 2010, and are subject to change.
Prices correct at July 8, 2010.
For further information
Ph: 136 789
Mantra Circle on Cavill
Surfers Paradise 4214
Ph: (07) 5582 2000
Fax: (07) 5582 2020
Cheyne Horan School of Surf