January 2009 issue

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Magnetic Queensland

There are a multitude of things to see and do in Australia’s second largest state. Nicola Hancox gets to grips with its relaxed atmosphere, vibrant lifestyle and the abundance of activities on tap.

Queensland’s regions are an ideal place to study and are characterised by their friendly people, easy going lifestyle, safe environment and incredible natural environments,” says Monique Barnes from Queensland Education and Training International (Qeti) – a government body that works with institutions throughout the state. Sure to appeal to both those hankering after a fast-paced city life – think Brisbane the state capital – or an adventurous life outdoors – think diving off the Great Barrier Reef, trekking through rainforest or making waves in Surfers Paradise – you’ll see why it’s such a popular study destination for language students.

As the third most populous city in Australia, Brisbane is home to over 1.6 million inhabitants. Tucked away in the southeast corner of Queensland, one of its defining features is the Brisbane River – which snakes its way through the centre of the metropolis. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of riverside activities. “Brisbane is a river city making full use of its enviable environment,” relates Robert O’Brien, Marketing Manager at Eurocentres in Brisbane, explaining that a typical day out may comprise of a quiet stroll along the riverbank or a quick dip – not in the river itself, but at Streets Beach – a man-made beach on the South Bank. The South Bank, overlooking the city, is a real draw for visitors, with restaurants, bars, market stalls, an art museum and an array of cultural entertainment. Nichola Cox at Southbank Institute of Technology notes that students are ideally placed to take advantage of what’s on offer. “[Our] fantastic location enables students to lie on the man-made beach, enjoy a river cruise, browse the markets, or dine in one of the many cafés and restaurants.”

For a real bird’s eye view of the city, however, students should head to Mount Coot-tha (Coot-tha is an indigenous term meaning Place of Honey), a mountain/suburb in Brisbane. At 287 metres above sea level, the lookout affords a great panorama that takes in the city skyline, distant mountain ranges (the Taylor Range) and Moreton Bay.

Those after a little nightlife will also not be disappointed with what Brisbane has to offer. “At night Brisbane comes alive,” enthuses Peter Walmsely, Marketing Coordinator at Global Village – which has campuses in Brisbane, Noosa and Caloundra. “The city centre fills with people out to have a good time. If students want to have a drink, dance, meet locals and other international travellers, there are many exciting venues that cater to their needs,” he adds. Fortitude Valley, or “the valley” – as it’s more affectionately known by Brisbanites – is the city’s entertainment hub. Teaming with über trendy hangouts, it has rows upon rows of pubs, clubs and live music venues sure to entertain the masses.

Gold Coast lies 94 kilometres south of Brisbane and is the gateway to sun and surf. Its subtropical climate, stunning coastline and ocean view make this an extremely popular – and almost Californian – destination for tourists (estimates say Gold Coast tourists generate some AUS$2.6 billion (US$1.68 billion) per annum for the state). No bad thing observes Mark Pallot, Manager of International Programmes at Bond University in Gold Coast, who says the city’s popularity makes the locals hospitable and friendly. “The city of the Gold Coast is a multicultural, vibrant community and is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia,” he says. “The locals are therefore accustomed to international visitors from all around the world,” he adds.

With some of the best surf breaks in the country, it’s no wonder watersports feature highly on the list of things to do here; kite surfing, jet skiing, parasailing are all readily available but Pallot has plenty of suggestions for students who prefer dry land. “Eat out at the wide variety of cafés, bars and restaurants, go shopping at one of Australia’s largest shopping centres, visit one of the action-packed theme parks, or go walking on one of the trails in the hinterland rainforest,” he says.

Indeed, there are some stunning national parks to explore while in the area. Springbrook and Lamington National Parks in the Gold Coast Hinterland (also known as the Great Dividing Range – a 3,500 kilometre mountain range stretching from north Queensland all the way down into the state of Victoria) are a short car ride away and both offer some challenging walking trails, complete with cascading waterfalls, rugged gorges and eucalyptus forests.

Burleigh Heads, a city suburb (and surfing hotspot), is perhaps an unlikely place for keen bushwalkers to don their walking boots but according to Patsy McLachlan, Managing Director of Burleigh Heads Language Centre in Burleigh Heads, the national park is a real must-see. “The dramatic headland of the national park was formed by an ancient volcano 22 million years ago and is sacred for Aboriginal people who once gathered there to fish and feast,” she regales. “There is a 2.8 kilometre walking circuit around the headland and a 1.2 kilometre rainforest circuit which takes you to the amazing Tallebudgera River where canoeing and fishing are popular.”

Health-conscious students are also well catered for in Burleigh Heads, says McLachlan, and she adds that many activities cost nothing. “Students can enjoy our beach esplanade walking tracks with free exercise equipment, a free Sunday yoga class in the park on Burleigh Beach, a swim and a barbecue on Tallebudgera River or join in a beach volleyball game with the locals,” she notes.

Just north of Brisbane, the aptly named Sunshine Coast promises language travellers more than just sunshine. The coastal towns of Maroochydore, Caloundra and Noosa are characterised by beautiful beaches and some stunning ocean vistas and Ian Pratt, Managing Director of the GV chain of schools, says a small town feel might be just what students are looking for. “A smaller regional centre like Noosa gives people a far greater opportunity to meet with locals,” he states, noting that many students wind up being made to feel part of the community they are studying in. “Three of our South American students in Caloundra swept up at the awards at the end of season dinner for the local soccer team!” he relates. High-octane sports such as sky diving, mountain biking, surfing or jet-skiing are also in ready supply, he adds.

Michelle Chudleigh, Principal of the International College of Esthetics in Maroochydore, relates that their close proximity to some of Australia’s premier tourist attractions ensures students will never be bored. “The beaches are a major attraction but we’re just 20 minutes from Australia Zoo,” she notes. Here, students can get up close and personal with some scary reptilians and the Underwater World Marine Park, which exhibits some 5,500 sea creatures, and Aussie World – Australia’s premier amusement park – are also nearby.

Meanwhile, Emi Tamba, International Relations Director at the University of the Sunshine Coast, says camping on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is particularly popular with students. The largest sand island in the world, students can jump in a four-wheel drive and skit across the dunes, dodge dingoes (a wild and rather unfriendly dog) or take a stroll along the 75-mile beach – this extremely beautiful stretch of coastline has a number of excellent highlights including Champagne Pools and Indian Head, where you might catch a glimpse of a Tiger shark in the surf!

A trip to Queensland wouldn’t be complete without snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef – the largest coral reef system in the world. The metropolitan town of Townsville is adjacent to the central portion of the reef but according to Phil Oakley, Acting Manager of International Business at the Barrier Reef Institute of Tafe in Townsville, the city is the portal to much much more. “The Strand is one of the best inner city beach fronts in the world,” he relates, adding, “It is the perfect place to cycle, rollerblade, walk, fish or picnic.”

Agent viewpoint

“Bond University is an extremely popular destination for our students. Not only the location on the Gold Coast and the comparably cheaper living costs than in Sydney, but especially the three semester starts make Bond University a favourite destination. Most students finish their semester in August, which is often too late for university entry and the start in September gives the students enough time to prepare for their studies.” 
Tobias Forster, International Education Consultancy, Germany

 “Our clients love the beach lifestyle and the sunshine and they can find it all on the beautiful Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. For those who are into diving or snorkelling, the northeast coast of Queensland offers some of the best conditions for diving on the Great Barrier Reef. However, our clients also like the infrastructure of big cities and the variety of entertainment that cities like Brisbane and Surfers Paradise can offer. I believe the main thing is the great weather! Queensland is not as fast paced as the other states, but has its own way of doing things.”
Cesar Hanke, Australia Brasil, Australia

“Students choose Queensland because of the perfect weather – it is the same as Brazil. They also like the Australian lifestyle, the job opportunities, the chance to improve their English knowledge and experience new cultures. The work permission for Brazilian students is also very important. Most of the students say it´s an excellent chance to earn some money and improve English skills. The whole experience is unforgettable. The students always enjoy the travel sites like the Great Reef Barrier, the Whitsundays, etc. Queensland is the sunny state.”
Priscila Russi, Just Intercâmbios, Brazil

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

Bridge Agency
Intellect Agency  

English Australia  
English UK  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Perth Education

Internet Advantage
Your World on

Malta Tourism

Alphe Conferences 
English Australia  
English UK  
MEI-Relsa Ireland 

Ability Education  
English Australia  
Geos International
      (Australia, Canada,
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Perth Education

Ceran Lingua
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Hansa Language
      Centre of Toronto  
Saint Charles
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Stewart College
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Ardmore Language
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Bell International 
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Camp Beaumont  
Hampstead School
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IP International
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LAL Language and
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Millfield School  
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Prime Education  
Queen Ethelburga's
RLI Language
St Giles Colleges 
       (Canada, UK, USA) 
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
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Twin Group 
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University of Essex
       - International
Wimbledon School
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Langues Sans

Carl Duisberg
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F+U Academy  
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inlingua Berlin  
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Kai Japanese
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Iels - Institute of
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Centro Marista de
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Fern English  
Leisure Learn
Seafield School
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Unique New
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North West
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Active English  
Clare Language
ISI - International
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Language College
MEI-Relsa Ireland  

EAC Language
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Glasgow School
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University of

Cape Studies  

Castila - Centro de
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Malaca Instituto -
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EF Language
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Prem Tinsulanonda
      Center for

Boston Academy
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EF International
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ELS Language
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University of
University of
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University of
      South Carolina  
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)