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Noosa braces for schoolies avalanche as teen party heads north

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About 5000 school leavers are expected on the Sunshine Coast this week, prompting a widespread response from accommodation providers, police and volunteer organisations.

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Coronavirus may have caused major disruptions for the class of 2020, but students are not going to let it interrupt their end-of-school celebrations.

Red Frogs Queensland’s Chris George said Noosa was planning for a record influx of Year 12 students. “There is a big influx of school leavers headed to Noosa, in the order of a few thousand for sure,” he said.

“We’re definitely noticing the trend is moving away from the Gold Coast after official Schoolies events were cancelled.”

The Accommodation Association said the majority of bookings on the Gold Coast were down at least 80 per cent.

George said Red Frogs’ estimates for Noosa were based on bookings provided from accommodation providers, but said the figure could be larger with an unknown number of schoolies staying in private accommodation.

“We’re not quite sure until we get there and find out,” he said. “Really, the unknown are the Airbnbs, those private bookings.”

The Red Frog group, which helps keep schoolies revellers out of trouble, said it would be sending 100 volunteers to the region this year.

“We’ve usually only had a small team of six to eight in the past, so we’re really going to bolster up our response for locals in Noosa,” George said.

Security boosted to prevent mass gatherings

Police are also preparing to bolster officer numbers but will not say by how many.

Superintendent Craig Hawkins said there would be a large police presence in and around Noosa to deter mass gatherings in public places.

“That includes not only local police but also mounted police, the water police, and a dog squad,” he said.

Many Queensland school leavers will be 18 years old when they graduate after becoming the state’s first mandatory prep students in 2007, meaning they will legally be able to drink and visit licensed venues.

“It’s an important occasion for these young people, they’ve just spent 12 years studying hard, but we want to make sure they celebrate safely and don’t make decisions that will be a lasting legacy,” Superintendent Hawkins said.

Bar and restaurant owners at Noosa Junction will begin a trial of security guards starting from November 21.

Presley Doyle from Mr Drifter said the majority of venues were looking forward to welcoming the schoolies. “I think everyone’s really excited and prepared for it,” she said.

“I think people will have to be paying special attention to serving alcohol responsibly, but all the bars in the Junction are amazing with that and I think they’re going to have a great time.”

Accommodation providers ‘ready’ to welcome revellers

Visit Noosa chief executive Melanie Anderson said not all accommodation providers were accepting schoolies bookings, but those who were felt positive about the event.

“November is traditionally a quieter period because it’s outside of the official school holidays, so the additional bookings is just fantastic,” she said. “We’ve got our plan together, we’re organised, and we’re ready.”

Anderson said she understood that some businesses wanted to ensure the region’s international tourist reputation was protected.

“We’re not the Gold Coast, we don’t have night clubs, we do shut down fairly early,” she said.

“There are rules when you come to Noosa. You have to respect them.”

Accommodation providers have offered to house Red Frog volunteers for free and have also hired security guards for the two-week event.

– ABC / Amy Sheehan

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