How To Avoid Schoolies Week On Your Queensland Holidays

Students posing for a group selfie

3.1min read

Published 21 November 2014


School's out for summer. School's out forever. The concept of 'schoolies week' isn't new, but the Spring Break-like phenomenon that engulfs our popular coastal hubs seems to be growing by the year.

Today is the day Queensland Year 12 students have been waiting for. This is not a drill, people: schoolies week is upon us. Factor in the separate schedules of schools interstate and the Sunshine State is at the mercy of young grads for a good three weeks.

If you had a quiet weekend away in mind or are thinking ahead to next year's pre-Christmas break, you might want to double-check your destination isn't overrun with hordes of untamed teenagers.

Kids just wanna have fun and, hey, after 12 years of trying to find the elusive mathematical 'x', they deserve to let loose. For those who prefer a low-key acoustic set to a midnight DJ gig and don't want to risk being labelled a 'toolie', there are some alternative spots to save your Queensland holiday.

Gold Coast

Stay away: Surfer's Paradise, Broadbeach, Coolangatta

Stay & play: Springbrook or Mount Tamborine

Natural made waterfalls that can be seen inside the cave
The Natural Bridge in Springbook puts the green behind the gold


Birthplace of schoolies week, home of headline-grabbing revelry – the Gold Coast is mecca for high school survivors. Surfers Paradise is the largest official schoolies destination in the country, where tens of thousands of post-school partiers book out the hotels, sometimes years in advance.

Non-teens will probably want to avoid the Gold Coast beaches at all costs. Instead, I encourage you to quite literally head for the hills. The Gold Coast Hinterland, the so-called 'green behind the old', casually invites you to walk above the treetops, knock on a few cellar doors and cosy into a villa with a view.

While some say sleepy, others say serenity. A trip to the Hinterlands means more mountain-top hiking trails and less sticky nightclub floors; more three-course vineyard lunches and less questionable fish and chips. Try O'Reilly's for a spa day or a stay in a rainforest retreat.

Sunshine Coast

Stay away: Caloundra or Noosa

Stay & play: Montville or Maleny

Herd of Brown cattle inside the farm
How now brown cow? Dairy doesn't get fresher than Maleny!


Queensland's Sunshine Coast has become the unofficial second hub of schoolies high jinks. While it's a little less rowdy than its southern counterpart, Caloundra, Coolum, Alexandra Headlands and Noosa are notorious hot spots for the young and the restless in late November.

If you can forgo the sand and surf, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is definitely worthy of a seachange. Explore poetic leafy villages, stop by antique shops for tea and scones, pack a picnic and head for the Glass House Mountains, hop between vineyards and dairy farms, feel the weight of a waterfall washing over you, the list goes on.

Maleny and Montville are the two most popular Hinterland hubs, while the entire region is sprinkled with cosy B&Bs and rolling hill vistas. For something incredibly indulgent, look no further than a French cottage at Spicers Clovelly Estate, with a long lunch at the Long Apron.

Central Queensland

Stay away: Airlie Beach

Stay & play: Mackay

Mob of kangaroos enjoying the sand with the people beside the beach
More pleasant furry locals than rowdy teens in Mackay


I myself have fallen victim to lack of calendar awareness, attempting a romantic getaway to Byron Bay only to find the town swarming with party people as opposed to the general slow-paced populace. Dude, where's my holiday?

Mainland Whitsundays hub Airlie Beach is a hotbed for schoolies celebrations, particularly for Queensland students from as far north as Townsville and Cairns. Sure, you could set sail and find yourself an island escape in the Whitsundays, but why not take the opportunity to discover a destination less travelled?

Pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the Queensland coast, Mackay may not be the first place to come to mind when planning a getaway to the Great Barrier Reef, but palm-lined beaches, a laidback town centre and the clear waters of the Coral Sea are all here.

Immerse yourself in nature by joining the kangaroos down on the sand at Cape Hillsborough National Park, heading offshore to the idyllic islands of Brampton, Keswick or Scawfell, or trekking the Cedar Grove Track in the misty forests of Eungella.

North Queensland

Stay away: Magnetic Island, Townsville

Stay & play: Cairns' Northern Beaches

A view of the ocean during sunset from the beach side
Palm Cove brings the chill factor


Schoolies have long been drawn to Magnetic Island. Maggie, to borrow the local lingo, is a quick ferry trip from Townsville and is usually swarming with open-top Mini Mokes making their way around to the many sheltered bays.

If you can't do without the sand between your toes, it's worth the effort of tripping to Cairns. There may be 347 kilometres between them, but it's just as easy to fly into Cairns as it is Townsville, or hit the Bruce Highway for a classic North Queensland road trip.

Cairns' Northern Beaches are largely free from pumping clubs and cut-price hostels. Instead, they are in plentiful supply of day spas, health-conscious cafes and resorts that provide the backdrop to tropical weddings 52 weeks of the year.

Palm Cove is a little more upmarket (and in demand) than neighbouring Trinity Beach or Kewarra Beach, but is definitely the pick of the bunch. Stay at the Pullman Sea Temple Resort & Spa if happy hour daiquiris and private beach access are important inclusions for your beach getaway. When aren't they?

The More You Know: around 75-80% of Year 12 students in Australia take part in a schoolies celebration of some kind these days. 'Voluntourism' is also skyrocketing, with destinations like Cambodia seeing a surge in popularity, as well as affordable off-shore favourites such as Bali and Vanuatu.

cairns gold coast queensland sunshine coast townsville

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