I used a drone to get some photos of
The Breakaways, a striking area of
colourful hills in an arid area near Coober Pedy in South Australia.
Shortly after I flew my drone a woman came and told me that it was illegal
to use a drone in a conservation park.
I asked her what the justification for this was and she replied that it was
to protect Aboriginal sacred sites, which might be visible from a drone
while not from the places where walkers go.
The great advantage to photography that a drone gives in The Breakaways is
that it can get above
the level of the ridge-tops, there is no other way of doing so.
On 2016/09/19 I emailed the Department of Environment asking about this
I received a reply on 2016/09/28.
The reason the writer gave was:
The use of drones in parks is regulated to protect our native fauna, as well as
Flying a drone in a park can present a nuisance because of the impact on the
privacy and enjoyment of visitors, but they can also disturb nesting birds
such as osprey and other raptors.
If these birds are disturbed, they many not return to their nests, resulting in
the death of their chicks.
The spokesman for DoE did not mention Aboriginal sacred sites; if the banning
of drones in conservation parks is at least partly to do with Aboriginal
sacred sites then it greatly concerns me that everyone should have their
freedoms limited based on the superstitions of a few.
Permission to use a drone in a park may be given as part of an application
to undertake an activity such [as] commercial photography or scientific
Since writing this I have been contacted by someone who told me he had been
told to stop using his drone at Kings Canyon National Park.
The same justification about Aboriginal sacred sites was given.
He said that this was absurd because helicopter flights over the canyon were
frequent and they would be looking at the same sites.
Of course there are no ospreys in Australia's inland conservation parks.
If drones can frighten raptors off their nests, can aeroplanes and helicopters
do the same?
Flying a drone in a conservation park or national park generally does no harm; if it is a crime then there is no victim.
Can anything really be a crime if it has no victim?
In the Flinders Ranges national park one frequently hears helicopter of fixed-wing aircraft on sight-seeing flights.
These aircraft would make a thousand times the noise of a drone.
Surely noisy large aircraft cause far more annoyance than drones do.
Drones should be used responsibly and with consideration for other people and animals, but the total banning of drones in parks is unjustifiable.
Advantage of drone photography in this sort of area
My Coober Pedy trip was in September 2016; it has confirmed to me the value
of drones for landscape photography.
The photos that were taken with my drone would have been impossible to get
any other way, short of hiring a helicopter.
I believe that they have added a lot more interest to this page than there
would otherwise have been.
As of 2016/09/24 there were 65 photos on the
Coober Pedy page; 13 of those were
drone images, the others were taken with a Canon EOS 350D digital SLR camera.
While I thought that 52% of the DSLR photos were worth displaying in
high definition, I used 84% of the drone photos at high definition.