Exmouth is a tiny resort town on the North West Cape, Australia. Are drones allowed here, or will you have to find another slice of paradise in Australia to fly?
You can fly a drone in Exmouth, Australia. You must follow all Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules, such as maintaining a visual line of sight on your drone, limiting altitude, and avoiding flying too close to crowds.
There’s lots to talk about, such as where in Exmouth you can fly and the rules to know ahead of your flight.
Whether Australia is your travel destination for business or pleasure (or perhaps a little bit of both), you’re not going to want to miss the info we have for you!
Can you fly a drone in Exmouth (Australia)?
When looking for a resort destination off the beaten path, Exmouth in Australia is the place to go. This Western Australia attraction is 789 miles from populous Perth and has fewer than 3,000 residents. Tourism doubles that number.
Although Exmouth is more known for snorkeling and diving, you’ll be glad to learn that you can fly a drone here.
Being a part of Australia, Exmouth is under the jurisdiction of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority or CASA for short, so you’re subject to all CASA rules when flying. We’ll talk more about those shortly, so make sure you check that out!
Can you fly a drone at Ningaloo Marine Park?
Of course, we can’t discuss Exmouth without mentioning Ningaloo Marine Park, which is near the tiny resort town.
Ningaloo Marine Park is a 2,435-square-kilometer (about 940 square miles) fringing barrier reef and the longest of its kind in Australia. The Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions manages it.
According to the Australian Marine Parks website, drones are allowed in some of Australia’s marine parks, but only with a permit. Keep in mind that this rule is for the 58 marine parks in general and may or may apply to Ningaloo Marine Park specifically.
The policy in full reads:
“A permit is required if you wish to operate remote piloted aircraft, such as drones, in marine parks. There are no fees for camping or drone use.”
The website elaborates further on commercial and recreational flight rules.
Although charter flights are mentioned in the commercial aviation category, since only “aircraft” are referred to by name, we take that to mean that drones could count.
The Australia Marine Parks site says about commercial aviation:
“For commercial activities, such as charter flights, you will need a license if you wish to take off and land aircraft in an Australian Marine Park.”
The statement on recreational aviation is as follows:
“For recreational aviation, taking off and landing an aircraft is only allowed in specific areas.”
You’d have to reach out to Australian Marine Parks or the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to discuss where you want to fly your drone.
After an assessment, the area would likely be approved for flight.
Drone rules to know when flying in Australia
Using your drone in Australia is a whole different animal compared to flying it in the US. For one, you’re under CASA’s jurisdiction and have to fly by their rules now, not the FAA’s.
Let’s go over CASA’s pertinent drone laws for safe flying in Exmouth and other parts of Australia.
Commercial pilots need drone licenses and registration
Making money from your drone is an incredible feeling, but if you want to do it in Australia, you’ll have to be willing to jump through some hoops first.
CASA requires you to have your remote pilot license or RePL. Technically, you can go for your RePL even when flying your drone recreationally, but you don’t need it.
Instead, the RePL is only required for drones exceeding 25 kilograms or 2.20 pounds (but weighing under 150 kilograms or 331 pounds) or if you’ll fly for a business or individual with a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate or ReOC.
Once you have your RePL, you’ll be assigned a drone weight category limit. This can be as little as seven kilograms up to 150 kilograms or more.
To obtain your RePL, CASA requires you to first have an aviation reference number or ARN. Then you’ll have to search for a certified RePL training provider and pass the training course.
The RePL training course includes a practical skills and theory component. Should you pass, then the RePL training provider you’re working with will apply for your license through CASA for you.
You’ll also need an aeronautical radio operators license or AROC if operating your drone in controlled airspace.
According to CASA’s website:
“An AROC allows you to broadcast over VHF radio aviation frequency with other pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers or emergency workers in the area.”
On top of all that, you also have to register your drone when using it commercially, which is a CASA requirement as of January 2021. You won’t pay to register a drone under 500 grams, but for drones heavier than that, you’re charged $40 AUS ($27.09 USD).
Keep your drone 5.5 kilometers from small aerodromes and helicopter landing sites
CASA rules require pilots to stay within 5.5 kilometers or 3.4 miles of a helicopter landing site or small aerodrome, but only if they don’t have a control tower.
Give manned aircraft the right of way
Manned aircraft such as planes or helicopters, which you will likely see at a helicopter landing site or aerodrome, should always get the right of way when operating a drone in Australia.
CASA recommends maneuvering away from the aircraft and landing your drone immediately when it’s safe.
Do not involve your drone in emergency operations or public safety operations
Emergency responders work hard in Australia just as they do in the rest of the world. You need to give them unimpeded room to work, and that means keeping your drone away from any emergency operations or public safety operations.
CASA cites searches and rescues, firefighting efforts, police operations, and vehicular accidents as examples of scenes to avoid when flying your drone.
Only operate your drone in clear weather
Exmouth is known for its hot temperatures, just as much of Australia is, but that doesn’t mean the weather is clear, warm, and sunny every single day.
When conditions are foggy, cloudy, or rainy, CASA rules require you to refrain from flying until and unless the day clears up.
Don’t use your drone after dark
In Australia, drone operations before sunrise and after sunset are prohibited. Australia gets some long days with plenty of sunlight, sometimes up to 10 hours or longer, so you should have ample time to schedule your drone flight.
Cause no harm with your drone
As the drone operator, you must use your UAV safely. You should never risk harm to property, people, or aircraft when in the sky.
Keep 5.5 kilometers from controlled airports
Controlled airports have a control tower. CASA requires drone pilots to fly no closer than 5.5 kilometers or 3.42 miles from these airports.
Do not violate another’s privacy with your drone
It’s illegal in Australia to use your drone to take photos or videos of others unless you have their express permission. Be mindful of the privacy of others!
Avoid flying over crowded areas
You can’t fly your drone above people in Australia, so populated areas are automatically off-limits. Those include sports ovals, events, parks, and beaches.
CASA mandates that pilots remain 30 meters from people in less populated areas.
Keep your drone in your visual line of sight
CASA rules require pilots to keep a visual line of sight when operating a UAV. Your line of sight is how far you can see your drone when wearing contacts, glasses, or with your naked eye. Binoculars do not count.
Don’t fly more than one drone simultaneously
Although it would be mighty difficult to do, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you can fly more than one drone at a time, the activity is strictly prohibited by CASA.
Don’t surpass an altitude of 400 feet
Throughout Exmouth and the rest of Australia, drones are not allowed any higher than 120 meters or 400 feet over ground level.
Exmouth in Australia is a tiny resort town that swells with crowds during the active tourism season. You can fly your drone here, taking photos and videos of its parks and beaches.
Make sure you stay current on CASA’s drone laws and get your drone license and registration (as required) before you fly!
1. Australian Marine Parks (link)