More than 10,000 schoolies are expected at Byron this year.
More than 10,000 schoolies are expected at Byron this year. AAP

Schoolies 'overload' at Byron

BYRON BAY is ‘not ready’ for the 20,000 visitors expected during schoolies, a youth worker has warned.

Nicqui Yazdi, from Byron Bay Youth Services, also said the town should consider limiting the amount of alcohol a person could buy.

“We’re guessing there will be more than 10,000 schoolies, but there will be other visitors as well.

“It’s quite possible we will have 20,000 people.

“We know it will definitely be more than last year.

“It will be big.”

But Byron Shire mayor, Jan Barham, said there was ‘no way’ of knowing how many schoolies would come to town.

“That’s one of the big concerns,” she said.

“Council has made a major financial commitment to schoolies, but we can only do what we can. It’s difficult when we don’t know how many people to expect.”

Ms Yazdi said there was also growing concern many of the schoolies were under the legal drinking age.

“During schoolies, you see huge amounts of alcohol being carried around,” she said.

“You’ll see a group of 20 to 30 young people, and each one of them will be carrying a slab.

“It’s probably not a bad idea to have limits on the amount of alcohol a person can buy.”

Ms Yazdi also said organisers should consider a ‘contained zone’ for schoolies.

“Maybe we could have dance parties at night, a bit out of town. It could be a good safety strategy,” she said. “It could take some of the pressure off. We have three nightclubs and three hotels, so even over-18s are limited in where they can go.”

Ms Yazdi said she was ‘not sure’ whether the town was ready for this year’s schoolies.

“I have 90 four-hour shifts to fill at the hub tent, and I am really struggling to get volunteers,” she said. “But I have been heartened by local businesspeople who are volunteering their time.”

The hub tent will be set up on the beachfront and will be open 24 hours during the official two weeks of schoolies, from November 20.

Byron United executive officer, Diana Ricketts, urged locals to get involved.

“We are ready for schoolies – we have a plan. We’ve been planning for several months,” she said.

“We’ve been working with the police and the liquor accord has also been actively involved.”

Ms Ricketts said accommodation places were fully booked.