The excitement levels in late November of 2000 were almost through the roof.
Six years of high school just completed, HSC exams done and dusted. A dozen blokes heading overseas to celebrate accordingly, the majority leaving Australian shores for the first time.
What could possibly go wrong?
One of the many schoolyard chats in the lead up was where to go for Schoolies.
In my inner-circle of friends, most didn’t turn 18 until a few months after school.
Before we knew it, Gold Coast and Byron Bay were tossed aside as options. Bali was the destination, and it was going to be the time of our lives.
Finally the big day arrived, with everyone meeting at the Sydney International Airport for ten days of debauchery.
Daily Mail Australia reporter Andrew Prentice (pictured) in 2000 – at Schoolies over in Bali 18 years ago he was fortunate to avoid serious injury after alcohol inspired behaviour
Teenagers without helmets riding a bike in Bali during recent Schoolies celebrations (stock image)
School leavers mark Schoolies celebrations in Bali, which has become an increasingly popular destination for Australian teenagers (stock image)
We all promised our parents we would be on our best behaviour. No drugs, safe sex, no binge drinking.
Unfortunately, this budding journalist let the occasion get the better of him.
A mate purchased some Jim Beam Black duty free. Despite never touching the very potent bourbon previously, I decided to skoll a quarter of the bottle in one sitting before our first night on the town.
Teenage stupidity then saw me neck another quarter – on the rocks again – moments later. I’m sure you can guess the state I was in moments later.
Feeling invincible, we headed down to the bar at our hotel and proceeded to drink more.
Once the music started, you couldn’t keep me away from the dance floor – despite being having two left feet at the best of times. Before I knew it, I was up on the bar carrying on like a kid without a care in the world.
Disaster then struck.
I asked a mate to catch me from up on the bar as I proceeded to play the fool, in a vain attempt to impress some girls, also on Schoolies. With everyone well on the way to teenage intoxication, what happened next was inevitable.
A man (pictured) urinates into a flower pot in Bali during Schoolies celebrations (stock image)
A group of teenagers stop by a stall off the main drag in Kuta, Bali during Schoolies celebrations (stock image)
What is Schoolies?
Schoolies is a graduation festival celebrated by Year 12 school leavers after HSC exams and graduations in Mid November
The festival sees thousands of teenagers flood places such as the Gold Coast in Australia and Bali in Indonesia for a week of parties and events
While Schoolies is predominately for recent school graduates, there are no rules in place for ‘Toolies’, party-goers who have already graduated, to join in the festivities
I slipped through my mate’s hands like butter, thumping my head with real force on the tiled dancefloor.
The noise was sickening and the initial laughter was quickly replaced by genuine concern. Blood was pouring out the back of my head at an alarming rate, and I was heavily concussed.
An ambulance was called and I was carted off to the nearest hospital near Kuta. I then proceeded to have my stomach pumped by a doctor.
He suggested I stay overnight for observation, so there I was first night ever overseas, in a foreign hospital absolutely terrified.
Thankfully a clued up friend, who was good enough to join me in hospital with another mate, offered up close to $200, ensuring I had a private room – in the heart attack ward, no less.
Schoolies letting their hair down in Bali after recently finishing high school (stock image)
Destionations like the Kuta nightclubs in Bali are infamous for cheap alcohol and all night parties (stock image)
The number of Australians dying Overseas has skyrocketed
The number of Australians dying in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand – the top three countries for overseas deaths – has skyrocketed.
There were 238 Australians who died in Thailand in 2017-18, up 17 per cent on the previous year, while 153 died in the Philippines (up 21 per cent) and 117 in Indonesia (up nine per cent).
A staggering total of 1,600 Australian travellers have died overseas in the past 12 months, while 2,500 others simply vanished.
The figures equate to an Australian dying or being seriously injured overseas every two-and-a-half hours – an increase of 36 per cent over the past five years.
After the nurses bandaged me up the next morning, I resembled a cancer patient – for the entire remainder of the trip.
Obviously the ladies didn’t want a bar of me, which was fine – I had more pressing things on my mind – I knew the situation could easily have been catastrophic.
To this day I often think what could have been – I’m not a religious person, but someone was definitely looking out for me that night.
We were also in the Sari Club most nights on the trip – so the bombings in October of 2002 hit home for many.
My advice to Schoolies heading to Indonesia – look after yourselves and each other. Alcohol inspired decisions can have permanent consequences.
While I lived to tell the tale, others aren’t always so lucky – so be safe, respect the local rules, say no to drugs, and like your parents will drum into you – know your limits.