Are you – or your child – graduating Year 12 this year? If so, I bet “Schoolies” has popped up in conversations more than a few times! If you’re wondering what the hype is all about, or what to expect at Schoolies, or even how to do Schoolies, this ultimate guide of Schoolies Week ideas for Brisbane Kids is here to answer all your questions. We are mums of teenagers about to head off to Schoolies week, So in this article will tell you what Schoolies is, the best Schoolies destinations, Schoolies dates 2023 and 2024, how to book Schoolies, and all about parties, safety, Schoolies organisers, and Schoolies on a budget.
What is Schoolies?
If you grew up in Australia, you’ve probably either been to Schoolies yourself or at least heard of Schoolies. For everyone else, Schoolies is a week-long celebration for school leavers completing Year 12. It gives school leavers the opportunity to relax, de-stress, meet new friends, and create lasting memories with their besties before the serious work of university and adulthood begins.
Year 12 graduates gather at designated Schoolies destinations across Australia – and now international too! – to party and have fun. The events are now so popular that they include organised festivals and activities and come with their own teams of Red Frog volunteers to ensure everyone stays safe at Schoolies.
Families Hot Tip: The Red Frog crew are excellent – get your kid onboard with seeking them out!
Where is Schoolies?
Queensland’s Gold Coast is the original Schoolies destination, and it’s still the biggest and most popular. Over the years, more states have become involved to host their own Schoolies events, and there are even companies providing organised Schoolies trips to international destinations.
The most popular Schoolies destinations by state are:
- Gold Coast – QLD
- Airlee Beach – QLD
- Sunshine Coast – QLD
- Byron Bay – NSW
- Victor Harbor – SA
- Rye – VIC
- Lorne – VIC
- Phillip Island – VIC
- Dunsborough – WA
Families Hot Tip: You don’t have to do Schoolies at your closest Schoolies destination. Many interstate schoolies choose to do their Schoolies Week at the Gold Coast for the amazing atmosphere, and Brisbane kids can go interstate too, if they prefer.
International Schoolies destinations are increasingly popular as school leavers gain their first taste of independent travel. Schoolies organisers take over whole resorts – and even whole islands! – overseas to provide the safest Schoolies experience possible. Only school leavers, staff, and entertainment providers are permitted to access the Schoolies area for the duration of the event. The most popular international Schoolies destinations are:
- Bali (Kuta)
- Fiji (Treasure Island, Plantation Island, and Mana Island)
You can read more about each Schoolies destination, including local laws and how each event is organised, here.
What do people do at Schoolies?
The misconception is that schoolies party all night, sleep all day, puke their takeaways up on pavements, and trash their accommodation. The truth is that Schoolies is much more organised and fun than that!
Schoolies want to experience as much as possible in Schoolies Week. They pack their week with activities, tours, day trips, thrill seeking, friend-making, and photo opportunities, and how can they do all that if they are permanently drunk or sleeping!
Schoolies is about having fun, relaxing, and celebrating the transition from student to adulthood and freedom of choice. Some of those choices might be regrettable, but if you plan and prepare for risks, they are easier to avoid. Reading between the lines, no one wants to come home from Schoolies an instant parent or damaged by drugs. Make informed choices, and safeguard your future. You’ll still have heaps of fun, we promise!
When is Schoolies? (Schoolies dates)
Schoolies typically occurs in the third or fourth week in November, or occasionally first week in December, depending on the state’s Year 12 graduation date.
2023 Schoolies dates are:
- 18-25 November – Gold Coast week one, Sunshine Coast (Coolum, Mooloolaba, Noosa) week one, Airlee Beach
- 25 November-3 December – Gold Coast week two, Sunshine Coast (Noosa) week two
New South Wales
- 18-25 November – Byron Bay week one
- 25 November-3 December – Byron Bay week two
- 3 December-10 December – Byron Bay week three
- 18-25 November – Rye week one
- 25 November-2 December – Rye week two, Lorne, Phillip Island
- 2 -9 December – Rye week three
- 17-19 November – Victor Harbor
- 19-25 November – Dunsborough Leavers Festival
- 18-25 November – Bali week one
- 19-26 November – Fiji week one
- 25 November-2 December – Bali week two
- 26 November-3 December – Fiji week two
- 3-10 December – Fiji week three
2024 Schoolies dates are:
- 16-23 November – Gold Coast week one, Sunshine Coast (Coolum, Mooloolaba, Noosa) week one, Airlee Beach
- 23 November-1 December – Gold Coast week two, Sunshine Coast (Noosa) week two
- 23-30 November – Noosa (Sunshine Coast) week two
New South Wales
- 16-23 November – Byron Bay week one
- 23 November-1 December – Byron Bay week two
- 30 November-7 December – Byron Bay week three
- 16-23 November – Rye week one
- 23-30 November – Rye week two, Lorne, Phillip Island
- 30 November-7 December – Rye week three
- TBC – Victor Harbor
- 17-23 November – Dunsborough Leavers Festival
- TBC – Bali week one
- 17-24 November – Fiji week one
- TBC – Bali week two
- 24 November-1 December – Fiji week two
- 30 November-8 December – Fiji week three
How to book Schoolies?
There are two ways to book Schoolies – entirely independently, or through a Schoolies operator.
The main thing to remember is that only people graduating year 12, or a year 12 equivalent, or that were scheduled to complete year 12 in the current year can attend Schoolies.
Proof of ID in the form of a student card and other photographic evidence may be required to get into Schoolies events and accommodation.
Booking Schoolies independently
You can organise all aspects of your Schoolies experience yourself. If you are travelling overseas for Schoolies, be sure to organise travel insurance and familiarise yourself with the local laws. If you are staying in Australia, sharing accommodation with friends is a great way to save money, and you can look out for each other.
Look into hotels and resorts at your chosen destination and make enquiries to see which are accepting bookings from Schoolies. Many hotels become exclusive Schoolies hotels for the duration of Schoolies Week. Their fees and terms of service may be different, and cleaning bonds much higher, than at other times of the year. It’s cheaper to book as a group of friends, but be aware that you could all lose your bond if that one reckless friend damages your accommodation – choose your friends wisely!
If you plan to book out an Air BnB accommodation, be upfront and tell them you are booking for Schoolies. Many Air BnB operators choose not to let their properties to Schoolies, and may turn you away at check-in. Check their small print, and contact the owner in advance to be doubly-sure you are welcome.
You can find Gold Coast schoolies accommodation here.
Booking through a Schoolies operator
Several companies now offer a complete Schoolies Week package deal. When you book through an operator, they organise your hotel, exclusive events, and travel to your destination if you are doing Schoolies overseas.
If you prefer to have someone else take over all the organising, look up:
- Tribe Travel
- Sure Thing Schoolies
- Schoolies Central
- Encounter Youth (Victor Harbor, SA)
How do you get a Schoolies wristband?
This depends on where you are going!
Gold Coast Schoolies is BIG, so the Queensland Government has taken the proactive step of issuing schoolies wristbands that are unique to each student’s ID. The Gold Coast Schoolies wristband is free and will get you into the official Schoolies Beach Hub at Surfers Paradise. The Schoolies Beach Hub is a fenced, alcohol- and drug-free entertainment precinct, open every night from 7pm. You have to register online for your Gold Coast Schoolies wristband and collect it in person from the Wristband Centre on Surfers Paradise Boulevard. Pre-registration opens in September each year.
The Schoolies Beach Hub is not the only schoolies beach event on the Gold Coast. Other event organisers may restrict access to those who have booked a full Schoolies Week package, including accommodation, with them. The Schoolies Beach Hub is free to enter for all school leavers with the official Gold Coast Schoolies wristband, so it’s a great option for those DIY-ing their Schoolies on a budget.
Other states and destinations (including other parts of Queensland) may do things differently, issuing wristbands or lanyards per event or per organiser.
Parties are a big part of every schoolies’ celebration. There are exclusive Schoolies events organised nightly at every destination, and sometimes during the day too! Most Schoolies parties are all-ages, so even if you graduate as a 17-year old you can still go. Proof of ID will be required for exclusively 18+ parties.
Every night is fresh and fun with a different theme. Pack your ‘fits accordingly, popular themes include:
- Colour block, such as a pink party, or green and gold
- Silent disco
- Pool party
- School uniform
- Thrift shop
Live acts and DJs
The festival vibe is always popping at Schoolies! Most outdoor Schoolies Week events are festival style, with either a line up of live acts to keep schoolies entertained, or DJ’s pumping out banging tunes.
Gold Coast Schoolies Beach Hub
This is a free-to-enter all-ages party for all school leavers attending Schoolies on the Gold Coast, whether you graduated in Queensland or not. It’s not linked to any accommodation booking or a specific Schoolies organiser.
The party starts at 7pm each night from 18-24 November, and ends at midnight. It offers six nights of live DJ entertainment across two stages as well as Tuesday Night Live (21 November, 2023). There is a silent dance party, live bands and glow fiesta for a more chilled out environment.
An offical Gold Coast Schoolies wristband is required for entry. They are free to get. Register for yours online at www.saferschoolies.qld.gov.au/wristband-registration
Exclusive organiser parties
Schoolies organisers really want your business. To tempt you to book accommodation and activities through them, they organise exclusive raves, deck parties, and DJ sets that you can only access when booking their Schoolies Week package. If you want to party with friends, make sure you all book through the same organiser!
If you want to consume alcohol at a Schoolies party, you will need proof of age to access the 18+ parties. Many 18+ parties take place in nightclubs, or in specifically fenced-off areas at Schoolies events.
Whether you are under or over 18, remember that in Queensland:
- It is illegal to drink in public, and
- It is illegal to be drunk in a public place
You’re there to celebrate, so it’s fair to say you will be drunk in a public place at some point during Schoolies. Authorities know you are there to celebrate, and with so many teenagers all in the same state, their focus is on keeping you safe, not on making unnecessary arrests. If you need help to get back to your accommodation safely, or to contact someone, or find a lost friend, the Red Frogs are there to help.
Schoolies Red Frogs
Red Frog Schoolies volunteers provide safety and support to schoolies across Australia. They act as the eyes and ears in Schoolies accommodation, party venues, and out on the streets, providing a positive peer presence to school leavers.
Red Frogs assist and entertain schoolies with:
- safely escorting them back to their accommodation
- pancake cook-ups
- room visits and games
- room cleans, and
- emotional support
All provided in a friendly and non-judgemental way.
Program the Red Frogs phone number – 1300 557 123 – into your phone so that you can call to request a walk-home or assistance. Parents and guardians can also call this number to request a Red Frog check in on their child.
If you want the security of knowing that Red Frogs will be at your Schoolies destination, this is where you will find Red Frogs at Schoolies in 2023:
- Gold Coast – 18 November-2 December
- Noosa (Sushine Coast) – 18-25 November
- K’Gari (Fraser Island, QLD) – 18-25 November
- Airlee Beach – 18-25 November
- Byron Bay – 25 November-2 December
- Rye (VIC) – 25 November-2 December
- Lorne (VIC) – 25 November-2 December
- Phillip Island (VIC) – 25 November-2 December
- Torquay (VIC) – 25 November-2 December
- Dunsborough (WA) – 19-23 November
- Fiji – 19 November-10 December
- Bali – 27 November-2 December
Find out more about the Red Frogs here
Schoolies on a budget
It is possible to do Schoolies on a budget.
The amount of money spent at Schoolies can be quite scary! Accommodation is more expensive to allow for risk to property and additional cleaning, schoolies (even underage schoolies) will consume large amounts of alcohol, and a whole week’s worth of takeaways, fat food, and entertainment can really add up. So how do you do Schoolies on a budget?
If you want to stay in a hotel, book early to get the best deals. Leaving your booking to the last minute risks being stuck with the more expensive options after cheaper deals have been picked over.
Book as a group of friends to split the cost in a multi-occupation room or apartment. Someone might end up on a sofa bed, or roll out camp bed, but personal comfort is propbably quite low on your priority list at Schoolies!
If you don’t mind a bit of walk to the Schoolies parties, consider booking just a little further out from where all the main action takes place, and catching public transport in. Always travel as a group though, and look out for each other.
At some Schoolies destinations, camping is an option at nearby camp sites. Be mindful of noise and mess rules, considerate of other campers, and consider how you will keep your personal belongings safe when away from your camp.
Camp sites often have cheap cabins available too. They’re basic, but clean and safe.
At a backpackers hostel you will be sharing a bathroom and kitchen with strangers, but it is possible to book out a whole dorm for a group of friends.
Check your Schoolies destination for the free parties and events hosted by the local city council. Schoolies bings in a lot of money for the local economy. Local councils consider it worth a couple of weeks’ disruption for the financial boost to the area, so often organise events for schoolies to attend.
You don’t need to get totally wasted on cheap booze to have a good time. We’re not telling you to not drink – everyone knows getting drunk is part of the schoolies fun – but set yourself a limit, then switch to water from the bubblers or hydration stations.
If your accommodation has a fridge-freezer and microwave, take frozen home cooked meals with you, or buy frozen meals at the local supermarket – they’re cheaper than takeaway. Club together with friends for a supermarket deli chicken and a bag of bread rolls, or head to the supermarket between 4-5pm when you might find chilled ready meals reduced to clear.
Breakfast can be as simple as taking a large box of cereal and a couple of cartons of long-life milk with you, or a loaf of bread and a small tub of butter.
Red Frogs will also be doing pancake cook ups for breakfast. Head down to your local cook up and thank a Red Frog volunteer!
Entertainment will have to feature in your plans if you don’t want to have a boring Schoolies. You’re there to make memories and have a good time!
Check out discount sites like Groupon and Klook to find savings on local activities, such as parasailing, jet boat rides, and entry into local attractions. If you are an RACQ member, the RACQ website also offers discounted entry to theme parks and attractions for members. Some venues and providers offer additional discounts for group bookings. There’s hardly ever a need to pay full price.
What are the alternatives to Schoolies?
Partying isn’t for everyone. You and your friends can still celebrate your year 12 graduation without getting jostled by ravers or dropping heaps of money on booze and takeaways. If you prefer to do your Schoolies differently, you could try a quiet besties-only getaway, go on an outback adventure, volunteer overseas, or tick something off your bucket list.
We’ve got 15 alternatives to schoolies suggested right here.
Did you know? – Facts about Schoolies
- Schoolies began on the Gold Coast, but exactly when is disputed. Some sources say Schoolies began in the 1970s, with other sources citing early 1980s.
- In Western Australia, schoolies are known as leavers
- Red Frogs volunteers hand out 16 tonnes of Allens Red Frog lollies every year, and cook tens-of-thousand of pancakes!
- Up to 50,000 schoolies descended on the Gold Coast in pre-covid days. Lockdowns in 2020 forced QLD students to look elsewhere, with small local events popping up in coastal and regional areas. When international borders opened, many students opted for travel and adventure instead of returning to Surfers Paradise. Gold Coast schoolie numbers are gradually increasing, with up to 30,000 expected in 2023.
- The Queensland Government took over management of the Gold Coast Schoolies in 2003 to make it a safer event. It had previously been under the management of the Gold Coast City Council.
- Unwanted pregnancies occur every year at Schoolies – use protection, and remember – consent is everything!
- Arrests also occur every year at Schoolies. Take care to protect your future reputation by avoiding drugs, underage alcohol consumption, being drunk and disorderly, and fights or disturbances. If you are a P-Plater, don’t drive with any alcohol in your system, or within 24 hours of consuming alcohol.