What to know when taking a drone out bushwalking

Since I’m sure many of you received a drone by now, here is all you need to know when using it out on hikes. Drone photography is a great hobby, it’s a lot of fun and allows for awesome photos. So in order to allow us to keep up with this hobby, we need to respect the rules.

Keep in mind that laws related to drones are changing regularly so it is important to note that the laws listed here may not be accurate in the future.

It’s most likely that if you’re reading this then you probably intend to use your drone in a national park. It’s important to note that while there are restrictions on drones in national parks, it’s not completely impossible. You will need to contact the park manager of whatever national park you intend on flying in to check in with them as different parks may have different policies. You can view the NSW national parks drone policy here. There are several reasons for these drone restrictions but primarily it is for wildlife protection (notably birds) and annoyance for other visitors.

General private-use drone laws

Australia has some of the most relaxed air traffic laws in the world, but here are some of the main laws that you should be considering when out flying.

  1. Never Let the drone fly out of sight. While with most drones this is definitely possible due to the live video feed, the laws state that you must have an unbroken line of sight of your drone at all times.
  2. Altitude limit of 120 meters. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you can’t exceed the height of 120 meters.
  3. 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes. Controlled aerodrome, normally those with a control tower, has a 5.5km no-fly zone so make sure you are out of these areas before flying.
  4. You are only permitted to fly during the day. This one is a little less known, but you can only operate the drone during daylight hours.
  5. Do not fly above or near emergency operations. This includes bushfires and all other emergency service workers in operations.
  6. Do not fly above people. You are not permitted to fly directly over people or at crowded locations such as festivals or crowded beaches.

An easy way to check that you’re not in a restricted area is to download the can I fly here App.

As I stated at the start of this post, drones are a lot of fun and I hope to keep flying them in the future and hope you can too. If we all respect these rules then I’m sure we’ll all be able to enjoy this fantastic hobby. Happy flying!

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