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September 2006 issue

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Queensland life

Beaches, barbecues, world heritage-status nature reserves, rainforest, the Great Barrier Reed, surfing, and did we mention beaches? It is difficult for students not to have fun in Queensland, as Amy Baker finds out.

Many of Australia’s cities seem ideal urban destinations, given that they are all within easy reach of the beach and the cities are well-planned, modern environments. In Queensland, the stunning coastline and ideal year-round weather conditions mean that Brisbane and Cairns, as well as the Gold Coast, are all popular city destinations that mix the urban with the outdoors.

Maryann Martin, Marketing Officer at HHH International College in Brisbane, is keen to extoll the virtues of the state capital. “Brisbane has beautiful inner-city parks, bike paths, swimming pools and sporting facilities as well as a vibrant nightlife, sophisticated shopping, art galleries and museums,” she says.

Of course, Queensland isn’t all about city life, far from it. With its world famous Great Barrier Reef and many nature reserves, the state has plenty to offer the adventurous student who likes to explore. But as a base for studying, Brisbane is certainly a popular choice. Christine Bundesen, Director of the Institute of Continuing and Tesol Education (ICTE) at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, says that while many of the ICTE students enjoy visiting Sydney and Melbourne, they express “a strong preference” for being based in Brisbane for their study. “Our campus is located in a very attractive sub-tropical river parkland setting and students love the ability to be able to travel between the campus and the city by fast ‘City Cat’ ferry,” relates Bundesen.

Typical freetime activities among students consist of visits to weekend markets, cafés and further afield to Moreton and Stradbroke Islands, both of which are accessible by public transport. Darryl Blumel at Geos Queensland College of English, adds that the favourite haunt of students is “undoubtedly Southbank – the artificial beach here in the city with barbecues, parkland and great river views”.

Ian Pratt who runs two schools for the GV chain in Brisbane and Noosa Heads – located one-and-a-half hours drive north of Brisbane at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast – says that the two locations attract a very different clientele. Noosa Heads attracts students who are travelling in search of the “real” Australia, he says. “We’ve never had a student describe Noosa as anything but paradise,” he boasts. “With over 100 kilometres of golden beaches, a world-class national park and a unique beach resort lifestyle, you’d have to be a pretty tough judge to critiscise the place too harshly.”

Surfing is the big draw for students at GV Noosa, and Pratt reports that with virtually no permanent foreign community in the area, there are great opportunties to meet locals, either by sharing a “beach break” with other surfers or typically, for longer-term students, by joining sports teams or volunteering with community groups. “Another major attraction is the amount of part-time work available,” he adds.

Another language school that allows students to get away from the city is Regent Australia English Language Centre in Port Douglas, one hour north of Cairns. Students choose the school to “get away from the hustle and bustle of big cities”, says David Hurford at the school, adding, “Students particularly appreciate the beach, which is only three minutes’ walk from the school.”

Given the location, many water sports are available for those interested, such as snorkelling and scuba diving, while trips to see the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree rainforest and Atherton tablelands are a must. These offer the chance to see wonderful aquatic life, volcanic lakes, waterfalls, crocodile farms, the oldest rainforest on earth and a mesmerising range of wildlife. Hurford adds that white water rafting and hot air ballooning are also on offer, while for more local pursuits, there is the choice of visiting the Sunday markets, nature walks, horse riding or painting classes at the local Arthouse.

Close to Port Douglas is Cairns, known as the gateway to Tropical North Queensland and the main city in the area; a magnet for backpackers and a city founded on tourism. For students looking for a lively time, Cairns is a good option. Quite a small city but with a constantly changing youthful population, it attracts the party crowd. As Dolly del Rosario at IH Queensland in the city observes, her students’ favourite places to visit are “nightclubs, karaoke places and the beaches”. Cairns also has a man-made lagoon where students can swim and have barbecues.

The Gold Coast is the other main destination in Queensland, a stretch of coastline below Brisbane towards the state border with New South Wales. “Queensland’s Gold Coast is Australia’s leading tourist destination,” says Jan Keppie at Australian International College of Language (Aicol) in Southport. “We enjoy a year-round perfect climate and we are the most biologically diverse place in Australia with more than 100,000 hectares of World Heritage-listed nature reserves.”

As well as the sun, sea and nature on offer, the tourism infrastructure means that there are many man-made leisure opportunities too. Esther Waters of Bond University’s English Language Institute in Robina relates that students enjoy visiting theme parks “such as Dreamworld, Warner Brothers Movieworld and Seaworld”. The nearby resort of Surfers Paradise also provides a myriad of neon nightclubs and bars.

Towards the southern end of the Gold Coast is Coolangatta, where Queensland International Business Academy (Qiba) is located. Lynn Tyler at the school is proud to say that “Qiba is the only English and business college on the beach in Australia”. The school is also a 10-minute walk from the Tweed River and offers a full menu of “marine sports” year round including swimming, surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and fishing.

Tyler relates that many of the school’s students have joined local sporting teams and this really helps them integrate with young Aussies. Kim Edwards at Sea English Academy, based in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, agrees that students can easily integrate with local people in Queensland. “We conduct plenty of activities that ensure students interact with local Australians, including barbecues and excursions,” she says. “We also connect students to local people in their field of interest whether that is going to the gym or working in a local business.”

Agent viewpoint

“Turkish students consider studying in Brisbane due to its wide range of quality education options, high standard of living, great weather and lifestyle, myriad of activites in and around Brisbane, and a cost of living that is one of the most competitive in Australia. I find that students always comment on how friendly the locals are.”
Bilal Sezgin, Avustralya Danisman ve Egitim Merkezi, Turkey

“Queensland (also known as the Sunshine State) is the preferred state [for students going to Australia]. The perfect weather, the beaches and the friendly people in a safe and affordable environment contribute to the success of Queensland. The Gold Coast with its beautiful surf beaches and attraction parks make it the best option and the state capital, Brisbane, is only an hour away. In July and August another option would be Cairns in far North Queensland. Students can discover the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and experience life in the Tropics.”
Frédéric Vuillemot, Australie Consulting & CAPEC, France

”Queensland is attractive to Japanese people because of its year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches and Great Barrier Reef. Compared with Sydney or Melbourne, the tuition and daily living costs are very affordable. For those who prefer to study longer, they tend to choose Brisbane. Those who wish to enjoy themselves during their spare time, participating in such activities as surfing, diving, etc, tend to opt for Cairns or the Gold Coast. Recent trends indicate that resort towns, like Noosa, are becoming quite popular too.” 
Keiko Otsuka, Ryugaku Journal, Inc., Japan

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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.





Education New
       Zealand Trust
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Fedele Agent
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English Australia
Fedele Agent
Mystery Agent Event
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Malta Tourism
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Language Travel
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Global Village Noosa
International Student
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Language Studies
       University of
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St Paul's School
University of
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Brock University
Business English
       School of Toronto
Cowichan Valley
       School District #79
George Brown -
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ILAC - International
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Aspect (Australia,
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Bell International
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Berlitz Language
       Centre - Oxford
Better English
Canning School
English Centre at the
       Hampstead Garden
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Study Group
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Twin Group
West London
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Accent Français
EICAR- Paris
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inlingua Berlin
Prolog- International
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Alpha College of
Emerald Cultural

Step Up Study
       Abroad Information
inlingua Malta
Malta Tourism

Education New
       Zealand Trust

Language Link,
Liden & Denz
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inlingua Singapore

Escuela de Español
       la Brisa S.L.
Kingsbrook -
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ONECO - the training
Turlingua -
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EF Language
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American Language
Kaplan Educational
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University of
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University of
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University of Illinois
       at Urbana-
Zoni Language


Archer Education
Delta School District
Richmond School
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Queen Ethelburga's

Bay of Plenty
Eastern Institute of
Wellington Institute
       of Technology