Drone safety

    Flying drones in Queensland’s parks and forests can affect visitors’ experience and privacy, disturb wildlife, particularly birds, and impact First Nations peoples’ cultural heritage.

    If you use a drone in a public space, you must:

    Rules you need to know

    It is vital you know the rules to ensure that parks and forests are safe places for people and wildlife.

    For information on all drone rules, visit the CASA website.

    Some examples of the rules that apply Australia wide are:

    • When your drone is in the air, you can never fly it over anyone at any time or at any height.
    • When there are people around, your drone has to be at least 30 metres away from them, unless the other person is helping control or navigate the drone.
    • You can’t fly your drone over or near an area that would create a hazard to another person, aircraft or property.

    Think carefully before you fly your drone in areas where there are other people, such as lookouts, over car parks, day-use areas, camping areas and busy tracks/trails—or where the landscape makes it impossible to fly a drone without breaching CASA regulations.

    • You can only fly your drone during daylight hours, and you mustn’t fly in cloud, fog or heavy rain.
    • You must always keep your drone within your visual line of sight.
    • You must not fly your drone higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level.
    • You must not fly your drone where its use could interfere with police operations or emergency response activities such as firefighting activities. Drones have been known to restrict firefighting aircraft from flying when needed.

    Learn more about flying drones in public spaces.

    Drones and wildlife

    • Avoid directly approaching or flying your drone near wildlife.
    • Direct approaches may mimic the movements of a predator and disturb wildlife.
    • Scientific research has shown that drones can increase stress levels of many animal species, especially nesting or breeding animals such as birds.
    • By law, you cannot fly a drone closer than 100m to a marine mammal (e.g. whale or dolphin) as specified in the Nature Conservation (Animals) Regulation 2020.

    Local restrictions on parks and forests

    Several national parks have specific limitations on flying any vehicle, including drones, below 1,500 feet (about 450 metres) in order to protect the natural and cultural values of these areas. These areas, where you cannot fly any type of drone are:

    • Capricornia Cays National Park (scientific):
      • East Fairfax Island
      • East Hoskyn Island
      • West Fairfax Island
      • West Hoskyn Island
      • Wreck Island
    • Capricornia Cays National Park:
      • Erskine Island
      • Heron Island
      • Lady Musgrave Island
      • Masthead Island
      • North West Island
      • Tyron Island
      • Wilson Island
    • Carnarvon National Park (certain areas) stated in the Nature Conservation (Protected Areas Management) Regulation 2017, Schedule 7 (follow the link and scroll to the end and click on Schedule 7 Minimum flying height over protected areas).
    • Currawinya National Park
    • Hinchinbrook Island National Park.

    This prohibition applies to all drones and to all drone weight categories, and to commercial and non-commercial use.

    Permits you may need

    As well as meeting CASA rules, you may need a permit from the Queensland Government to use a drone on a park or forest:

    • for commercial purposes—including commercial or promotional filming
    • for research purposes
    • that is more than 2 kilograms in size.

    Find out more about Queensland Government permits or contact us via email  to discuss permit requirements.

    Report unsafe drone operations

    CASA provides an online form where you can report drone operations that you think may have broken the drone safety rules.

    Want to know more

    CASA-verified drone safety apps provide information about where you can and can’t fly your drone.

    CASA also provide a range of factsheets about drone safety we recommend you read.

    RSPCA provides some information on the effects of drones on wildlife and pets.