||When it comes to natural attractions, Queensland in the northeast corner of Australia surely boasts more than its fair share. Tropical rainforests, coral reefs, pristine surf beaches, uninhabited island chains as well as mountain ranges and vast stretches of outback all provide ample opportunities for visitors to enjoy a multitude of activities. And for many students visiting the region, these are its principle attractions.
Melissa Jones at Whitsundays College of English in Cannonvale says, “The Whitsunday region is surrounded by natural beauty. For this reason, it has been voted by tourists in the top three most popular destinations to visit in Australia. What makes it unique and special to our students are the 74 islands situated just offshore, in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.” Jones adds that there are a “vast number of activities” for students to participate in. “Daytime activities include snorkelling and scuba diving tours to the Great Barrier Reef, sailing through the 74 Whitsunday Islands, visiting island resorts, camping on uninhabited islands, bushwalking through subtropical rainforests, visiting waterfalls, crocodile viewing, eco safari tours and much more,” she says.
It seems that each area in Queensland has its own special attractions, and students are spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoying their free time. David Hurford at Port Douglas English Language Centre lists the popular activities undertaken by students at the school, many of which are unique to the area. “Day trips to the coral reefs and tropical safaris, Mossman Gorge and Daintree National Park, crocodile farm, Sunday markets, Atherton Tablelands with volcanic lakes and waterfalls, Undarra lava tubes, skyrail, white water rafting, hot air ballooning, wind and kite surfing to name a few,” he says, adding, “There is a free sunset yacht cruise every Wednesday a very popular activity our students particularly appreciate.”
The largest cities in Queensland are Brisbane and Cairns, which are popular destinations for students looking for the usual attractions of city life. Richard Brown from Browns English Language School, which has two locations in Brisbane and Southport, says that both locations offer students a different vibe. “Our Brisbane students love the city filled with riverside restaurants, trendy bars, the lively energy of outdoor cafés, boutique shopping, live music and entertainment,” he enthuses. “Only 40 minutes away is our Gold Coast campus where our students enjoy the laid back, vibrant lifestyle alongside a coastline of sun-drenched beaches, tropical hinterland and waterfront dining and markets.”
Queensland is also famous for its theme parks, which are dotted near the state’s coastline. Brown lists “Dreamworld, Whitewater World, Movie World, Wet n Wild, Sea World, Australia Zoo and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary” as being popular with students and located near to both schools. For those hoping to get close to some of Australia’s unique wildlife, there are many sanctuaries and zoos that provide close encounters for visitors. Anna France from Langports English College, which has two campuses in Queensland’s Brisbane and Surfers Paradise, mentions the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary as a significant visitor attraction near Brisbane. The sanctuary, founded in 1927, is the oldest koala sanctuary in the world and is home to kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, echidnas and a platypus, as well as over 130 koalas. A key attraction of the sanctuary is that it is possible to hold koalas for free.
France adds that the sanctuary can be visited as part of an excursion organised by the Activities Officer at the Brisbane school, along with other attractions such as sightseeing at Mount Coot-tha, the Southbank and Kangaroo Point. She adds, “During the night, the most popular things to do would be to visit restaurants, cafés, comedy clubs, karaoke venues and sightseeing from the Brisbane Wheel [a 60-metre Ferris wheel with 42 viewing capsules].”
Being such a prominent tourist destination with a busy hospitality industry, Queensland is an attractive destination for students wanting to work part-time during their studies. Many schools in the region acknowledge this and offer students help with finding jobs. Sharni Newbury, Marketing Manager at Language Studies International in Brisbane, says that the school offers a job club to students. “It runs for approximately an hour,” she says, “and a teacher is always present for the duration. The teacher helps students to write a resume, prepare a covering letter, practise interview skills and search through the job application websites. Another job-oriented programme we run is afternoon resume submitting.During the activity, a teacher goes out with a group of students to help them submit their resumes face-to-face with employers.”
The jobs on offer in the Queensland region are also very varied in nature, according to Jones at the Whitsundays College of English. “Many local businesses contact the school’s Work Co-ordinator when positions suitable for students become available,” she comments. “Previous student job placements include cruise attendant positions travelling to the Great Barrier Reef and Island Resorts; food and beverage attendants; guest liaison officers; house keeping staff; kitchen hands; wedding and functions assistants; dive instructors and much more.”
As well as plenty of jobs, there are also many opportunities to get to know friendly local people, according to Aimee Broad at Lexis English in Noosa and Sunshine Coast. She says, “Noosa and the Sunshine Coast are not mainstream destinations so there is a genuine enthusiasm and interest from the locals to make contact. A great example is a student I was speaking to just last week from France. He met up with a Noosa local and they ended up swapping English conversation for French conversation over a coffee every Wednesday. Another example is a Brazilian student from Lexis Sunshine Coast who is coaching the local under-eights football team. You can imagine how pleased the players were with that!”
“Students like to study in Queensland because of the great ocean, great nature and great weather. They go to the beach, hang out with friends, go to cafés, do some sightseeing, do a little yoga, some surfing. Australia is a popular country for working holiday students in Japan, so they work in their free time. Local people are very friendly. Students get involved in the local life by living with a host family.”
Miho Suzuki, Wintech Inc, Japan
“Brazilian students are looking to study in Queensland for different reasons. One of the reasons is the beautiful beaches of Gold Coast and Cairns. Gold Coast is the most popular beach town. Cairns is more for students who enjoy little cities, something quieter, calmer, and with less Brazilians. Brisbane is a really good destination for students who want to study and work. And different from Gold Coast and Cairns, Brisbane is not a seasonal city, there are things happening year round, not only in the summer. Australia is known for being a very safe place, and it makes the student free and relaxed to enjoy everything with no fear of something wrong happening.”
Marcela Lahaud, World Study, Brazil
“Queensland is becoming more popular with students from Kenya. Our students love the weather and find that the lifestyle is laid-back. Many of them head down to the beach. They enjoy the Gold Coast on weekends, and some do try and head up north along the coastline. Our students love Queenslanders. They find them to be welcoming. Many look for part-time work, and this helps them integrate into local life. Also many students like to live off campus, as Brisbane is such an easy city to navigate around.”
Mahul Shah, Australian Education Consultants (AEC), Kenya