GOLD Coast schoolies from left, Cameron Thompson,18, Gerhard Maree, 18, and Brad Martin-Turner, 17, came to Byron Bay for its relaxed atmosphere.
GOLD Coast schoolies from left, Cameron Thompson,18, Gerhard Maree, 18, and Brad Martin-Turner, 17, came to Byron Bay for its relaxed atmosphere. Northern Star

Schoolies say they prefer Byron

THEY are calling it the ‘great escape’.

This trio of boys from the Gold Coast are part of a growing number of teens turning their backs on their home town to celebrate their rite of passage in Byron Bay.

Eighteen-year-olds Cameron Thompson and Gerhard Maree and 17-year-old Brad Martin said they favoured Byron Bay for schoolies because it was a holiday, not just a party.

Nicqui Yazdi, Byron Bay Schoolies Hub Coordinator said the boys represented a growing trend of Queensland school leavers who preferred to celebrate south of the border.

The Gold Coast and Byron Bay experienced its first big Saturday night on the weekend and while the Gold Coast police reported 30 schoolies arrests - six more than last year – Byron Bay ambulance paramedics described their night as ‘fairly’ quiet.

Tweed Byron Local Area Command reported ‘a busy but fairly uneventful night’ with one alcohol-related hospitalisation.

But every effort from publicans and Byron Bay’s Schoolies safety response team could not prevent the party turning sour behind closed doors, according to 18-year–old Gerhard Maree, who spent the night nursing an under-age drunk mate.

“He was in trouble, falling down the stairs. He was playing a drinking game called ‘Challenge’ where you have to skull shots,” said Mr Maree.

Ms Yazdi said Byron Bay differed from the Gold Coast in that it provided a ‘safety response team’ rather than promoting a beachside party zone like at the Gold Coast where a 12-year-old was pulled fully clothed from the surf in front of the main party zone on Saturday.

Initial media reports suggested she was either intoxicated or affected by drugs.

The kids at Byron congregate around the beach, so we’ve put in special night lighting for safety” said Ms Yazdi.



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