22nd November 2017
High school leavers from all over the country are currently celebrating that special time of year known as ‘schoolies’. The end-of-year tradition celebrates the end of their studies and is a chance for them to let their hair down before starting university or full time employment. Although it’s most famously celebrated on Queensland’s Gold Coast, it seems high school graduates are increasingly choosing to celebrate in other beachside destinations.
It seems Airlie Beach rates quite highly with this year’s schoolies, with one group of New South Wales friends choosing it over other options closer to home.
"We're from New South Wales and we chose to go to Airlie Beach because we still wanted to come up to Queensland but didn't want to be at the Gold Coast where it was packed. We wanted somewhere chilled and laid back," said Emily Abela.
Many schoolies reflect her attitude with those from far and wide already planning return trips. It seems the opportunity to escape the chaos of the packed crowds of the Gold Coast along with the conveniently compact size of Airlie Beach and the opportunity to visit the islands as well are all big drawcard among the school leavers.
Schoolies week will run in Airlie Beach until Friday 24 November and police have been happy with the behaviour of most of the attendees. Two days in and there has been no criminal activity aside from one incident with an older, non-schoolie who was arrested for violent behaviour.
Festivities have gotten off to a solid start and Whitsunday Regional Council director of Community and Environment Julie Wright said that schoolies have behaved well. Ms Wright said school-leavers from across Queensland, New South Wales and as far as Victoria had flocked to Airlie Beach than some of the other traditional schoolie destinations.
"They love coming to the Whitsundays and we are happy to have them. We ask them why and they say they just love the atmosphere here, it’s not as busy as the Gold Coast and it’s a little more relaxed," she said.