How Schoolies Can Tear It Up In Bali And Fiji, Without Getting Into Trouble

Tens of thousands of students are heading to Schoolies Week -- but things are done a little differently these days. More teens are heading overseas, and there's a warning about drug laws that are far tougher.

Queenslanders have a head start on celebrations, with their week-long Schoolies kicking off on Saturday.

Western Australian teens begin their celebrations -- known as Leavers Week -- a day later.

Fast forward a week, NSW and Victoria join the party for two weeks of official celebrations.

For nearly four decades, the Gold Coast has been the top choice for Schoolies -- 15,000 teens from NSW and Victoria are expected to make the trip north this year.

Going to Surfers Paradise for Schoolies has long been considered a rite of passage, but that is changing. Image: Getty Images

But around six years ago, school leavers began taking a different route and headed overseas, Matt Lloyd, CEO of trip booking site schoolies.com told 10 daily.

This year, about 5000 schoolies are expected to travel to Bali, while 2000 will head to Fiji.

"The opening up of these destinations has encouraged more to go," Lloyd said.

These locations have started having planned events and resort parties targeting school leavers -- which is enticing many to go the extra mile.

Teenagers attend a party in a nightclub during Australian 'schoolies' celebrations following the end of the year 12 exams in Kuta, Indonesia. Image: Getty Images

"For example, Schoolies.com blocks out entire resorts with DJs for parties," he said.

Places like Bali and Fiji may have become the new GC, but there is a warning for school leavers to know the laws of the lands they are travelling too.

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"The laws of the country you are visiting apply to you, even if they seem harsh by Australian standards," a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told 10 daily.

"There are strict limits on what the Australian government can do to help you if you find yourself in trouble with the law in another country."

In 2016, the dangers of buying drugs were highlighted when 18-year-old Perth Schoolie Jamie Murphy was arrested in a Bali nightclub for allegedly carrying a small packet of white powder.

Jamie Murphy is escorted as he walks free at Kuta police station, Bali, Indonesia. Image: AAP Image

Under Indonesian law, Murphy faced the death penalty if the white powder had been an illicit drug weighing more than five grams.

The powder ended up being paracetamol, but it was a reminder of the extra risks schoolies take if they buy drugs overseas.

"Many countries in our region have tough penalties for people arrested with drugs, including life imprisonment or death," DFAT said.

Red Frogs Australia, a volunteer organisation that provides support for young people from the ages of 15 to 25, will be keeping a watchful eye over the thousands heading to Bali and Fiji.

Forty volunteers will be in and around Bali, while four volunteers on three of Fiji's islands will also be on hand -- and one of their biggest missions is to make sure everyone gets home safe.

Never walk home alone and always stay in groups is a top tip given to 10 daily by Andy Gourley, Red Frog Australia's National Coordinator.

"We have a 'Walk Home Tent' in Kuta so you can have someone walk you home," he said.

"And on three islands in Fiji we have teams that will walk you home."

There are hotlines in both Bali and Fiji to organise the walk home service, as well as an app.

"Don't have an Aussie mindset in another country," he said.

Red Frogs provides the walk home service to 20 resorts in and around Kuta, and many of these resorts will have live-in Aussie volunteers that will be available to help at all times.

The organisation's work starts long before Schoolies Week even starts, with education programs run in high schools to give teens tips for travelling.

Registering trips with Smartraveller.com.au is important to remember to receive the latest travel alerts and so the consulate can access information on who to contact in an emergency said Gourley.

A man dances infront of a taxi on Legian Street during Australian 'schoolies' celebrations on November 26, 2014 in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia. Image: Getty Images

Up-to-date travel insurance is another must, particularly making sure it including medical evacuations.

"We sometimes see poisoning from methanol in alcohol that hasn't been distilled properly, and they need to be medi-vacced from Bali to Darwin," Gourley said.

"It is important to make sure your insurance is up-to-scratch."

READ MORE: 15yo Girl Dies After Alcoholic Related Experiment

Teenagers attend a party in a night club during Australian 'schoolies' celebrations on November 26, 2014 in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia. Image: Getty Images

Other advice includes sticking to sealed bottles of alcohol of known alcohols -- particularly well-known foreign brands -- is the best way of avoiding poisoning from alcohol that hasn't been distilled properly.

Keeping on eye on friends who are drunk is important to make sure they don't do anything they wouldn't do while sober -- namely getting experimental with drugs.

"Really look after your mates and protect them from taking drugs," Gourley said.

Schoolies 2018 Dates
  • Week 1 (17 Nov - 24 Nov) - QLD Schoolies
  • Week 1 (18 Nov - 24 Nov) - WA Leavers
  • Week 2 (24 Nov - 2 Dec) - NSW & VIC Schoolies
  • Week 3 (1 Dec - 9 Dec) - NSW & VIC Schoolies

Contact the author jdunne@networkten.com.au