Byron Bay school leavers Joe McMahon, Thomas O’Neill and Dom Sullivan are ditching Byron Bay in favour of Bali for their schoolies celebration.
Byron Bay school leavers Joe McMahon, Thomas O’Neill and Dom Sullivan are ditching Byron Bay in favour of Bali for their schoolies celebration. Kate O’Neill

Local Schoolies prefer overseas

AS THOUSANDS of out-of-town schoolies invade Byron Bay to party this week, local school leavers are packing their bags and heading overseas.

It’s not that they don’t enjoy their visiting schoolies’ company; they’ve just got more exotic locales in mind.

Joe McMahon, Thomas O’Neill and Dom Sullivan are among many students from Byron Bay High School and Lennox Head’s Xavier College who have chosen to holiday in Bali to celebrate the end of their schooling.

The trio say Bali is a cheaper option to the Gold Coast, has much less-crowded surf and offers an overall broader experience.

“It’s not just a party scene, it’s more like a cultural experience as well,” Thomas said.

The teenagers have friends who have paid about $1000 for a week’s accommodation on the Gold Coast – probably in a tiny unit they said, whereas their three-week stay in a ‘pretty lush’ place in Kuta will cost them $2000.

Food, alcohol and transport were also cheaper in Bali, Joe said.

“You can hire a motorbike over there instead of paying for taxis everywhere,” Joe said.

The airfares are about $700 or less and most students have worked part-time throughout the year to contribute to the costs

“We’ve been planning this all year,” Joe said.

Meanwhile, extra efforts to keep Byron Bay schoolies celebrations safe this year appear to be paying off.

The safety response includes an information ‘hub’ near Main Beach, extra lighting, additional life saving services and support from church group the Red Frogs. Council has pitched in $35,000 towards the plan, with the aim of minimising the impact on the town and local residents.

Police report that schoolies have been well behaved so far, and holiday letting organisation, HLO Byron, says noise complaints are down on last year.

Inspector Shane Diehm, of Byron Bay Police, said although it was a busy weekend, it was mostly ‘toolies’ (older party goers who crash schoolies celebrations) or ‘foolies’ (under age party-goers), who caused most of the trouble.

Inspector Diehm said details of arrests were not yet available, but there had been ‘a number’ of street offences, such as assaults, as well as driving offences.

John Gudgeon, of HLO Byron, said the organisation’s 24- hour noise complaint hotline (6626 6888) took just three calls on Saturday night, two of which were not related to schoolies. This was down from five complaints last year. Sunday was even better, with just one complaint, as compared to 23 last year.

Police will continue to have an increased presence in town over the coming two weeks of schoolies and will be targeting alcohol prohibited zones and fake IDs.



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