FOR schoolies, the tide is turning and reports suggest northern region school leavers are favouring the North Coast rather than migration to the Gold Coast for their end- of-school celebrations.
One group bucking the Goldie trend consists of Oxley High School Year 12 students Dylan May, Luke Fox, Wade Hazell, Nick Hamilton and Sam Davidson, who with three other mates will head to Hat Head, on the North Coast, for their end-of-school celebrations.
Dylan May said the group had chosen Hat Head for a number of reasons.
“It’s a place where we can relax and spend time with our friends without being surrounded by monkeys,” he said.
“It also gives our parents peace of mind knowing we are safe.”
Dylan said the appeal of somewhere quieter also stemmed from thinking there would be more to do.
“If you go to the Gold Coast, you will sit in a hotel for hours or go to a beach and be surrounded by loads of people,” he said.
“At Hat Head we can play cricket in the back yard, go fishing, and do day trips to other places and we will stay in a house, rather than a hotel or apartment.”
Their group of eight has been planning schoolies since late last year ... “but only seriously for the past few months,” Luke Fox said.
Nick Hamilton said Hat Head appealed, too, because it was less expensive and being underage, there would be less restrictions enforced on him.
Wade Hazell said the Gold Coast scene wasn’t really the group’s “thing”.
“We’ll be away from all of the idiots,” Sam Davidson said.
It seems these boys aren’t the only ones seeking schoolies celebration change, either.
Simon Luke, manager of the Sundowner Tourist Parks in Port Macquarie and Tiona, said every year they were seeing a growing number of cabin bookings during schoolies week.
“The majority of bookings are coming from school-leavers located in regional areas, including Tamworth, but also places like Dubbo, Newcastle and Singleton,” Mr Luke said.
He attributed the change to the difference in opportunities offered on the North Coast.
“I think the opportunity to stay in self-contained cabins with your friends, the range of activities available and the fact the beach is at your fingertips, appeals to many of the kids who don’t want that more chaotic schoolies experience.”
Mr Luke said with stories of alcohol-fuelled and sexual-related violence at Surfers Paradise and Gold Coast emerging in the media in recent years, harsher regulations and a larger police presence had made school-leavers “choosy”.
“It seems country kids are redefining the rite of passage that is schoolies week,” he said.