Did you know RPAS/Drones are prohibited in all Parks Victoria Managed land for recreational use? This includes all State Parks, National Parks, Reserves, Marine Parks, Local Parks, some Playgrounds, Lookouts, Walking Tracks, Camping Areas and Waterfalls.
This is a common question, so I thought I would add some information regarding Parks Victoria. The short answer is NO, you cannot take off or land in any Parks Victoria managed land. Although you can take off outside the park and fly in, however, there are limitations, for example, VLOS (Visual Line of Sight) meaning you need to be able to see your drone, not be creating a nuisance and ensure you can safely fly it away from people, buildings, cars etc.
On the other hand for commercial operators the answer is YES you can fly in Parks Victoria managed land, however, operators will need to apply for a permit and obtain permission. Permits take around 2 weeks to process and fees apply (refer to below).
Official Parks Victoria Link on RPAS/Drones
Parks Victoria manages more than 28,000 assets and four million hectares of parks, for a full list of the managed sites refer to the website.
How to Check for Parks Victoria Managed Land?
- Do you see a Parks Victoria sign? This means the area is managed
- Google the location, if you find a Parks Victoria link – this means it’s managed, alternatively
- Search Parks Victoria Website for the location name.
Can Recreational Pilots be Fined for Flying Inside Parks Victoria Land?
Yes, you can and will be fined if you take off or land from a Parks Victoria managed land. Penalties start around *$3000+ per offence. RPAS/drones are treated as aircraft under CASA Rules, therefore you may also be fined from CASA. So remember to check CASA Airspace Rules with App or Desktop before you fly.
* Side note CASA App only covers airspace and not landowners
How Can I Get Fined, if No One is Policing the Policy?
I get this question a lot. The answer is social media. There may be no one at your location or even near you, however when you submit it on a public forum on social media, the footage becomes available to all. METADATA exists on all videos, photos and texts, so even the serial number of the drone, GPS points, locations, times, dates or pilot info etc. is recorded and can be used to identify your video. Next time you capture some video on a DJI drone, use a METADATA checker to view all the info it captures. Metadata is useful for recording information, but it can also publicly share more information than you realise.
There are teams of people who monitor social channels. You can even use Google to notify you on a particular video, picture or query which may inadvertently cause you to receive a takedown notice or even a fine. In the US, AI bots are used to identify drone footage within restricted locations. All DJI drones inject personal identifying information into MetaData from your DJI GO App.
More About Commercial Operators
Commercial operators who hold a RePL/ReOC certification can fly in Parks Victoria managed land with permission. Operators will require liability insurance, from memory this can be $20 Million. It is suggested for drone operators to plan sufficient time to get the necessary permits approved. Allow at least 2 weeks’ notice for paperwork and administration. Permits are around *$170 AUD. I generally find TV and media companies will already have an inclusion for this within their own policy for filming. For this permit charge, I generally pass back to the customer at cost price.
Parks across Australia
The rules I’ve mentioned above only apply to Victoria. For example in NSW you can fly recreational drones as long as you notify the Park Manager and you follow the rules of the park with limitations. It’s important to remember each state has its own rules and regulations for flying recreational drones, so recommend to check with each State Authority before flying.
As you know I love hiking and the outdoors. I would love to take the drone to some of the many places I hike, camp and mountain bike. But in reality, I always leave the drone at home and only fly when customers of Bendigo Aerial have requested footage of Parks, therefore I obtain the required permit. So the next time you want to film, make sure to check with Parks Victoria and CASA. If it’s all clear, then get out and fly. If it’s restricted or requires landowner approval, keep it at home and just enjoy the outdoors.