Schoolies. If you’re a teenager in your last year of high school or the parent of one, it’s a huge deal. HUGE.
The discussions and debates about where to go and what’s allowed start months and sometimes even years ahead of time. (Gold Coast, Byron Bay… Bali? Will you buy me alcohol? Do you have to drop me off? Yes I will call you every day PROMISE.)
The tradition started in the 1970s when private school kids would head to the Gold Coast for a few days of fun and freedom. But now it’s grown into a multi-million dollar industry and a rite of passage for tens of thousands of young Australians.
Cavill Avenue at Surfers Paradise. Image via Schoolies.com
This year, an ABC documentary team has bravely gone where many fear to tread – behind the scenes with the 17 and 18-year-old schoolies of 2014 on the Gold Coast and in Bali. The result – “Inside Schoolies” – is a window into a world that every parent anxiously wonders about. Is it really as bad as the headlines make out?
To answer that question, we follow five different groups of schoolies willing to guide us through what they hope is the best week of their lives.
We meet Zeke, a gorgeous outgoing lad who’s the first one in his family to finish high school, and his Dad is so proud. “I’m not silly. I know he’s gonna get drunk, he’s gonna get wasted,” Zeke’s dad Chris says. “My concern is I want him to come home from schoolies. I know that he’ll be fine, because I know his mates, and I know that they look after each other.”