October 25, 2019

Travelling with a Drone



Between the reef, rainforest and our postcard perfect coastlines, it’s no secret that Tropical North Queensland boasts an abundance of great photo opportunities – and now, the rising popularity of drone photography is taking this photogenic region to some serious new heights.

But, before you take flight in search of some epic aerial shots, it’s important to know where and how to fly your drone safely in Cairns.


Can I fly a drone in Cairns?

Yes, but there are areas within the Cairns region where drone flying is prohibited. Cairns is home to numerous helicopter-landing sites, which see continuous activity from reef and rainforest tours everyday, as well as a major airport, so it’s important that you are aware of, and strictly adhere to, the airspace rules when flying a drone around Cairns.

The general rules for a drone under 2kg, operated by a non-licensed flyer, include flying within eyesight, no higher than 120 metres above the ground, and maintaining 30 metres distance from other people. Most controlled airports also have a 5.5 kilometre exclusion zone.



How do I know where I can safely fly my drone in Cairns?

As the operator, it is your responsibility to fly your drone safely and stay within areas where they are permitted – otherwise, you could find yourself facing quite a hefty fine.

The Australian Government’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority recommends downloading the OpenSky app by Wing Aviation, which will help you easily indentify where you can safely and lawfully fly in Australia.



Tips on travelling with a drone

1. Buy a travel-friendly drone

With so many options out there, you’ll want to make sure your drone is lightweight and portable enough to carry in your backpack while travelling, hiking or on day trips.


2. Invest in spare batteries
Most drones offer around 20-30 minutes fly time on average, so having an extra battery or two on hand will be extremely useful when you’re out exploring all day.


3. Pack your drone in your carry-on luggage
The best way to ensure your highly delicate (and expensive!) drone arrives at your destination safe and sound is to store it in your carry-on. However, due to their batteries, some airlines require drones to be stored in checked-in luggage so be sure to check with your carrier before your flight.

4. Avoid crowded areas when flying
You should always avoid flying your drone over people, especially in crowded areas. Not only does this avoid any issues over invasion of privacy, it also avoids the risk of your drone causing injury or damage if it accidentally crashes mid-flight.

5. Keep your eyes on your drone at all times

Just as you wouldn’t leave your drone lying on the ground where you can’t see it, you should never fly your drone out of your eyesight. It’s important to always keep your drone in your line of sight so that if your video feed fails mid-flight, you’ll still be able to manually fly it back to you.


Need some aerial inspiration?

Check out some of our favourite drone shots taken in and around the Cairns region…



The Great Barrier Reef

We all know the reef is beautiful below the surface, but looking down from above is really something special.

Photo credit: @ollygaspar



Daintree Rainforest

High above the canopy of the lush Daintree Rainforest, drones can offer a whole new perspective on how vast and dense this ancient natural wonder is.

Photo credit: @photobohemian




Millaa Millaa Falls

This dreamy waterfall is one of the most photographed places in Cairns, and it’s not hard to see why – especially with this unique bird’s eye view.

Photo credit: @ollygaspar



Palm Cove

You’ll find this popular palm-lined beach around 30 minute’s drive north of Cairns. Get in early before the crowds for a sunrise shot like no other.

Photo credit: @merrwatson



Walsh’s Pyramid

The sugarcane-lined road leading up to Walsh’s Pyramid is what drone photography dreams are made of.

Photo credit: @bettergetwanderlost



Cape Tribulation

Where the rainforest meets the sea is always best captured from above.

Photo credit: @merrwatson



Fitzroy Island

A 45-minute boat ride from Cairns will bring you to this little slice of paradise – stunning from every angle.

Photo credit: @photobohemian