Exams are over, summer is fast approaching, and you’re ready to let your hair down for some fun-filled freedom. You know the score – it’s time for schoolies. Every year, thousands of newly-liberated high-schoolers get together and venture to different Australian destinations to celebrate the end of their schooling life.
Although the Gold Coast tends to be a popular choice among many, an average accommodation price of $250 per night can leave a whopping hole in the wallet – and let’s face it, there are other things we can spend our pennies on.
So if you want to get more for your buck, take a look at our six alternative schoolies destinations that won’t break the bank, or mum’s credit card! Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beachside sojourn or you’d prefer some round the clock partying, you’re certain to find a destination that’s just right for your personality. Here are the types below.
NATURE FANATIC MACKAY
Average accommodation cost: $120 per night
Calling all green thumbs, nature fanatics and tree-planting pioneers. If schoolies means saying goodbye to fluorescent-lit classrooms and hello to expansive rainforests and streams illuminated in soft natural light, Mackay is likely to meet your schoolies destination expectations to a T – naturally. Here you can appreciate Australia’s rich flora and fauna in unspoilt surrounds.
Head to Eungella National Park and take a refreshing swim in one of the many clear rock pools or swoon your special +1 with a romantic sunset over Casuarina Beach. Exams are over, so embrace your inner Zen in this natural sanctuary.
Direct Hotels – Pacific Sands
The relaxed nature of Mackay makes it the ideal kind of place to unwind with your classroom comrades, so check out Direct Hotels – Pacific Sands for some chilled accommodation.
These air-conditioned one, two, and three-bedroom apartments are marooned right beside the ocean and won’t set you back a fortune. All include fully-equipped kitchens and private balconies, which make for a perfect combination for some at-home entertaining.View on trivago
CULTURE VULTURE MELBOURNE
Average accommodation cost: $200 per night
Glamour, class, chic! Do these three words resonate well with your idea of the perfect schoolies destination? Would you rather ditch the six-pack of coldies and opt for a double shot, skinny flat white instead? If so, a cultural schoolies getaway to Melbourne is your winning destination, and it won’t set you back too much either.
Spend a day in the CBD laneways, exploring true Melbourne culture in the labyrinth of pint-sized alleys and coffee shops. Then head to the beachside suburb of St Kilda for a spot of live local music at the Prince of Wales hotel to unleash your inner groupie.
In the morning share your tales from the night before over an indulgent brunch of smashed avo on sourdough at Brunswick’s Code Black and appreciate the converted warehouse café space.
Abode by Easystay
If we’re going for culture this schoolies, a stay at Abode by EasyStay is all the more necessary. Located in Melbourne’s seaside playground, St Kilda, this four-star studio apartment hotel underwent a glamorous face-lift in 2015 and now boasts all the necessary mod cons for the savvy voyager.
Colourful artwork adorns the walls, adding flecks of fun tones to the contemporary aesthetic. You can also document all the fun on your smartphone thanks to the free Wi-Fi throughout.View on trivago
ISLAND ADVENTURER BALI
Average accommodation cost: $160 per night
A mix of bars dotted along the bustling thoroughfare draws the attention of party seekers ready to initiate an evening of frivolity. The air is still, but the hub pulsates with sounds of revelry and post-exam freedom. This is Bali. For just a small sum comparative to other Australian locations, Bali is an excellent destination for those seeking an after-school island getaway.
With a never-ending playlist of dance bars, cheap drinks, and tasty food at a seriously low cost, you and your peers won’t break the budget for your Bali escape.
The Bene Hotel
Most party goers will tell you that Kuta is where the festivity starts and ends in Bali. If this vibrant district sounds like your schoolies paradise, you’ll be pleased to know The Bene Hotel is only a short five-minute walk away.
The hotel is modern in design, reflecting its serene beachside location with soft hues and clean lines. Five different room types are available, and some are even adjoining so none of your mates will be left feeling solo.
If a morning dunk in the ocean is a little rough for comfort, lounge in the tree-lined pool and recharge for night number two. The hotel also boasts in-house DJ performances from 3pm – 6pm everyday except Mondays.View on trivago
AUSSIE ROAD TRIPPER WOLLONGONG
Average accommodation cost: $215 per night
A vast horizon awaits you, a crimson canvas bleeding into the land. Twisted shrubbery adorns the desolate plain, sunburnt and brittle, awaiting rainfall. While schoolies may often be associated with sun, drinks, and surf, why not honour Australia’s natural beauty with a true blue aussie roadtrip with your friends in tow.
Pack the beers, choose your tapes, and settle in for an adventure from Sydney to Ulladulla. Get your snorkel out and explore scenic Shellharbour’s Bushrangers Bay or instead gorge on some specialty food and wine in countryside town, Berry. For more information check out our full road trip guide.
Novotel Wollongong Northbeach
For a night’s respite, shack up at halfway point in Wollongong, and book a night at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach. The rooms are elegant in design and offer all the essential features to welcome the weary driver.
Think comfy beds, plasma TVs and an inviting deep-soaking bathtub. The hotel is located within easy reach of North Beach and Stuart Park, but if you’d rather stay put there are two in-house bars which make for the ideal beer-drinking havens for your schoolies entourage.View on trivago
Average accommodation cost: $310 per night
Are you an adrenaline junkie who likes to feel the tingling sensation of fear rush through your body? If you’re still running on a high from the stressful pre-exams cram, burn off that extra jitteriness with some seriously extreme sports in Queenstown.
Drop 134 metres in 8.5 seconds at Australasia’s highest bungy jump, Nevis Bungy, or alternatively bounce over rough cascades and falls in a hefty course of white water rafting. Then round up a group of mates and calm the nerves for just a couple of hours with a guided hike in scenic Queenstown and learn a thing or two about the breathtaking region.
After all of these extreme sports, your body is probably pleading for a comfortable haven to roll up in. For something that’s comfortable and equally independent, head to Scenic Suites Queenstown.
As the name would suggest, these serviced apartments boast spectacular vistas of the lake and mountains, so you can appreciate all Queenstown has to offer right from the comfort of your sofa or bed! All rooms also offer either a patio or balcony, which makes for the ideal spot to unwind in with a beer after your day of active adventures.View on trivago
BEACH BUNNY BALLINA
Average accommodation cost: $120 per night
Palms gently swaying in the coastal breeze pepper the pristine shore in fluid, green lines. Waves meet the beach in a frenzy of foam, while people dart in and out of the water, frolicking in the summer haze. If this sounds like a fantasy, think again – Ballina transforms this idealistic lens into a vision of reality.
Located on the New South Wales coast, this seaside town is ideal for all those beach hopping bunnies wanting to spend their schoolies break quite simply – uhm – lounging about.
What better way to end the frenetic school year than by soaking up some vitamin D on 32 kilometres worth of pristine sandy beach? Or how about freshening up with a dip in some of the area’s natural streams and lakes? This place is made for bikinis and boardies so get shopping!
Ballina Beach Village
So now onto the accommodation savings! Roll up at Ballina Beach Village and you and your mates can be guaranteed a fun stay. Cabins and dormitory rooms are available, so you can uphold the schoolies ethos of mingling and sharing stories with fellow teens. Direct access to the beach is also available, but if you’d rather stay put the site offers two swimming pools.