Canberra school leavers embrace Fiji and Europe holidays as well as our coasts

December 5, 2015 – 11:30PM

Matthew Raggatt

Reporter at The Canberra Times

Map of Australia with the Australian Capital Territory highlighted

Queanbeyan High graduates on the NSW south coast on Friday (from left) Chloe Vandermaat, Connor Simpson, Sarah Croker, Angela Furlento, CJ Garcia, Emily Wood, Lina Moulder, Courtney Crawford, Kade Abbott (kneeling), Nathan Brighenti (standing), Nicholas Johnston (kneeling) and Tom Perry.

Queanbeyan High graduates on the NSW south coast on Friday (from left) Chloe Vandermaat, Connor Simpson, Sarah Croker, Angela Furlento, CJ Garcia, Emily Wood, Lina Moulder, Courtney Crawford, Kade Abbott (kneeling), Nathan Brighenti (standing), Nicholas Johnston (kneeling) and Tom Perry.

The Gold Coast or south coast may beckon but an increasing number of Canberra school leavers are heading overseas to celebrate.

Canberra bookings through one company which specialises in taking school leavers out of the country to party had risen 150 per cent in two years.

Two Fijian island resorts were the top destinations for this year’s Canberra school leavers who booked through Unleashed Travel, followed by a winter trip to Europe.

A spokeswoman for the company, which claims to be the market leader for overseas-bound Australian schoolies, said overall Canberra bookings for 2015 were up 78 per cent, and 2016 numbers were already another 73 per cent higher than this year.

Paul Elliot was one of the school captains at Queanbeyan High this year and avoided a schoolies week, instead having informal drinks at the pub.

“Because I’m going away overseas next year I’m saving, I’m heading to America in January,” he said.

The month-long trip is not part of a formal Schoolies package, meaning he’ll miss the organised partying and adventures of those island resort style tours taking place in Fiji.

His co-captain Emily Wood has gone for an Australian beach instead, enjoying a five-night stay near Batemans Bay with 17 friends.

“Originally we thought about going to the Gold Coast but none of us could afford it, so we organised Tomakin,” she said.

The graduates planned their own event, with mini golf and beach time, including paddle boarding, on the relaxed agenda.

“There’s all that discussion about Bali etc but the south coast is cheaper, safer, convenient,” she said.

And as for drinking?

“It’s a part of it but we still do have some who are under 18, so we cater for everyone,” she said.

“We just want to go out and have a good time with ourselves for the last time.”

Unleashed Travel’s seven-day school leavers trip to Vanuatu cost $1400, while grads shell out $3200, excluding flights, for a 22-day November and December Europe trip.

There was no response this week to questions put to STA Travel, which has stores on both the Australian National University and University of Canberra campuses.

Source : Canberra Times

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