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Byron Bay is among the pick of destinations for the massive Schoolies Week 2008 end-of-school-forever bash, and the famous beachside community is presently a sea of bikini-donning girls and bare-chested young lads!

Authorities, business owners and residents say the kids are behaving well and making the most of the well-deserved rite of passage that is finishing school forever.

Schoolie Alex Gava, in Byron after finishing his senior school certificate in Toowoomba, said he and his mates picked Byron for its chilled vibe and sunshine.

“It the best place to start a new life, outside school,” he said. “Just been at the beach's so relaxing. No teachers, no parents, no assessment, no homework… it’s such a great place to celebrate no more school.” His mates agreed, then posed for this fantastic snapshot (below)!

schoolies1wade by you.

Authorities say they've cracked down for the week - and the kids have been behaving well.

Byron Police Duty Officer, Owen King, says so far, so good. “Nothing serious to report yet - we've put a fair bit into crime prevention for schoolies and the kids seem to know the rules – that if they don't comply with the law and are too intoxicated or noisy, they’ll be asked to move on,” he added. “Of course, some of them have to learn the hard way.”

The story’s not as rosy after a wild weekend of alcohol-induced bad behavior in the neighbouring coastal community of Ballina, where accommodation is also full for Schoolies Week.

Senior Constable Mike Hogan reports on Saturday night, numerous Police vehicles were called to Ballina shortly after midnight.

“There were about 30 to 40 youth aged between 16 and 21 involved in numerous altercations,” he said. “We know some were schoolies, some were local people and the majority were drunk, fighting and swearing, causing a significant disturbance to neighbours,” he added.

A 19 year old male, a visitor to Ballina, was arrested for offensive behaviour.

Back in Byron Bay, Holiday Letting Organisation spokesman John Gudgeon said while there had been a number of complaints made to the group's security hotline, the calls were low and fairly minor in nature. “People seem to be showing respect for the residents and locals so far,” he added.

IMGP4801 by you.

The shop owners I spoke with were overwhelmingly welcoming of the schoolies. One woman, working at one of the alternative clothing stores, ‘Cheekies’, said she loves the schoolies time of year because “there are heaps of beautiful happy young people in town and it’s great for business.”

At Creative Tattoo Art in Fletcher Street, the guy had a long line of schoolies waiting to get their first piercing - schoolies Bec Graham and Emma Ryan among them.

The two girls, both from Brisbane, said they came to get their tongues pierced but weren’t staying overnight. “We’re avoiding the party scene,” said Emma. “We’re in Byron today but we’re actually staying in a unit in Lennox Head… we're here to relax, Byron’s good but it’s wild, everyone starts drinking at breakfast – we need to chill after all the exams and stress!”

Schoolies week will continue for the next couple of weeks... some say the party won't end til  uni starts in March next year!

Posted: Monday November 24, 2008

Published: Nov 24, 2008 1:54pm by philippa.

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  • Annoyed resident

    I have a friend living in Byron Bay, she is 60 years old, a cancer survivor and has lived there for 25 years, since pre-tourist influx, pre-schoolies, pre-music festivals and so on. She is not a NIMBY type, she has come to terms with the fact that the town is a tourism destination and has chosen to remain living there despite that, but at this time of year it’s a double whammy: tourists PLUS thousands of schoolies converging on the tiny town, filling the narrow CBD footpaths, populating shops, cafes, retaurants and so on. Defeats the whole reason she moved there in the first place when she was first diagnosed. It must make life slightly less comfortable, and she did it’s OK as it’s only for a few weeks, but gee, it’s a small town – it must be a bit of a pain for the locals??

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