Can I Fly My Drone In National Parks In Australia?

Nov 02, 2016


02/11/2016 By Ben Southall, Winner of the ‘Best Job in the World’ and AdventureFree Brand Ambassador

Other Drone Articles:

    - Part 3. Can I fly my drone in Australia’s National Parks?

Annoyingly enough, different states have different rules so it’s worth reading up before you take the skies:

Queensland – the most open and deregulated of the lot.

“For recreational purposes you do not need a permit to use a drone in Queensland’s National Parks as long as it weighs under 2kg, there are less than 10 people involved in the film shoot (i.e. the crew) and no buildings or structures are being filmed”

In short – No pre-arrangement required. Be safe, be sensible and have fun.

New South Wales and ACT (Canberra) – there is a process

“Visitors wishing to use drones in parks must obtain consent from the park manager. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service may grant consent for the recreational use of drones in a park if they do not cause nuisance or risk to other visitors or wildlife, do not interfere with park management operations and the drone user only operates in the consented area”

In short – if you prepare in advance and contact the team at least a week before you arrive it ‘may’ be possible to fly in New South Wales and ACT National Parks.

Western Australia – written permission is required

“Members of the public and commercial operators can request permission to operate their drones through their local Parks and Wildlife Office”.

In short – there’s an administration process to follow, so just turning up to fly WA National Parks isn’t an option

Tasmania – are working on updating their policy

“Personal recreational use of drones, regardless of size/weight, in national parks and other reserves managed by PWS is not supported having regard to the safety, wildlife and visitors conflict issues. The PWS is currently developing a ‘Drone’ policy, which will include provision to designate areas, based on certain criteria, where personal recreational use of drones will be permitted.

In short – as of November 1st 2016, you cannot fly your drone in Tasmanian National Parks.

South Australia – a resounding NO

Drones have been added to the list of remote-controlled aircraft that cannot be flown in a national park without a permit.

“Flying a drone, or any remotely piloted aircraft, in a park presents a potential nuisance because they impact on the privacy and enjoyment of visitors, but they can also pose a very real hazard to native fauna. We have even had reports of drones disturbing nesting birds such as ospreys, which are a threatened species. If these birds are disturbed, they may not return to their nests, resulting in the death of their chicks”.

You need to apply for a permit with the SA National Parks authority and if you decide to fly without one you’ll be fined at least $75

In short – you’re unlikely to be given permission so don’t bother.

Victoria – specific permissions are required

Drones are regarded as planes and there are rules about flying them in parks and reserves. You need to fill out an operations plan.

If you’re planning of filming for research you’ll need a research permit. If you’re planning to film an event you’ll need a events permit.

There appears to be a slight loophole though - if you launch and land your drone from outside of Victorian National Park boundaries and fly it into the park, and as long as you abide by CASA regulations and don’t disturb wildlife or damage vegetation, then you can film and fly to your heart’s content!

Northern Territory – Written permit required

You’ll need a permit to fly a drone in the parks and reserves of the Northern Territory whether for private or commercial use but don’t let that put you off, it’s a relatively simple process.

The difference between private and commercial is defined as being flown either ‘for purely aeronautical purposes’, or ‘to capture photos or video’.

Private flyers need an Operation of Aircraft Permit (for which you’ll at least need an ARN) Commercial flyers need the same, but also a Commerce & Trade Permit For more information visit the Northern Territory National Parks website.

Frederik Schindler captured some incredible footage of Australia’s National Parks below:

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*Drone rules are evolving, and we will update from time to time. This article is for information purposes only and please satisfy yourself of the rules before you fly. This article may not be relied upon as approval to fly.


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