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In Western Australia’s Mid West region near Perth is Kalbarri National Park, a hidden gem along the Murchison River.
The river’s gorge makes for an attractive stopping point; the same goes for the carefully-preserved sandstones throughout.
You’ve fallen in love with Kalbarri and eagerly want to use your drone here.
Can you fly a drone in Kalbarri National Park?
Kalbarri National Park permits drone pilots, but you cannot fly across trails, lookouts, and recreation sites when you see crowds. You must also reach out to the Parks and Wildlife Office ahead of your flight and obey CASA rules.
It’s not every day you get permission to use a drone in a national park.
This guide will walk you through all the rules so you can enjoy Kalbarri and, more importantly, keep the park accessible to other drone enthusiasts too!
Can you fly a drone in Kalbarri National Park? #
Kalbarri National Park is a natural wonderland. You can stroll over Meanarra Hill, ascend more than 100 meters on the Kalbarri Skydrop, witness the coast from Pot Alley, or spend some time on Red Bluff Beach.
According to Kalbarri’s official website, Kalbarri National Park permits drones within the park. However, you must obey Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules when in the skies.
Additionally, you must contact the Kalbarri Office of Parks and Wildlife on the day you plan to visit your drone before you launch it. You can reach them by phone at (08) 9937 1140.
Further, you’re forbidden from operating your drone too close to crowds.
When you see park visitors on any trails, lookouts, or recreation sites throughout Kalbarri, you’re to fly in a different area of the park.
In this case, it doesn’t appear to be enough to keep your distance. You should vacate the area.
Rules to follow when using your drone in Kalbarri National Park #
Besides every relevant CASA drone law, Kalbarri National Park enforces the following laws when using your drone in the park.
Contact the relevant authority before each flight #
If you’ll spend several days exploring Kalbarri National Park with your drone, it’s not enough to notify the Kalbarri Office of Parks and Wildlife just once.
You need to get in touch with them or the relevant authority each day you’ll fly.
This way, the office has advance notice of your arrival. You’ll receive word on where you can fly so you won’t get in the way of park management operations for that day.
Be flexible and willing to work with the park agencies.
Avoid drone use in areas of emergency operations #
Australia sometimes experiences bushfires, even within Kalbarri National Park.
CASA rules require drone pilots to keep a fair distance away from any emergency operations within the park as they pertain to wildfires or other emergencies.
Use the Emergency WA website to actively track bushfires and burns around Australia on any given day.
If you see several emanating from Kalbarri National Park, you might want to rethink attending that day, or at least see if the wildfires become less severe as the day goes on.
» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone in Jervis Bay?
You cannot use your drone over people #
CASA law prohibits drones from flying over people.
The Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 aka the CALM Act, which the Conservation Commission of Western Australia created, also bars drones from:
- Parking areas
- Day-use areas
- Picnic areas
- And recreation sites where crowds gather.
Never disturb wildlife with your drone #
Kalbarri National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including ospreys, kangaroos, and echidnas. You can also see more than 800 unique wildflower species here.
As you fly through the park with your drone, never broach wildlife sanctuaries, nests, homes, or other environments.
Do not use your drone to antagonize, chase, or upset the wildlife either.
Do not annoy visitors or endanger their health or lives #
You shouldn’t ever use your drone close to park visitors, which should limit the rate of incidents between drone pilots and visitors.
Nevertheless, Kalbarri National Park guidelines prohibit pilots from annoying visitors with their drones in any way.
You shouldn’t fly close to others, stalk them, or use your drone in a loud fashion.
You should also avoid endangering the lives of others with your drone such as flying too close to them or dropping something from your drone.
Where in Kalbarri National Park should you fly your drone? #
Kalbarri National Park has no shortage of beautiful, breathtaking spots to visit across its 706.6 square miles.
While your ability to see these areas depends on the rate of wildfires and the number of people congregating, you won’t be disappointed with these spots if you get a chance to explore them!
Shell House and Grandstand Rock Gorge #
The cliffs on the Shell House and Grandstand Rock Gorge were formed by the Indian Ocean and its pounding waves gradually eroding the cliffside.
The sandstone rocks seen here remain a piece of the park’s history.
Atop the rock gorge, you’ll see clear Australian skies and the picturesque Indian Ocean below you. It looks far more peaceful at that distance, that’s for sure.
Watch where you fly your drone, as with nothing but cliffs and ocean below you, you don’t want to lose signal or battery.
Red Bluff #
Kalbarri National Park has plenty of coastal lookouts, but Red Bluff is the one furthest up north.
You’ll find Wittecarra Creek, Meanarra Hill, Jake’s Point, Red Bluff Beach, and the Murchison River in the area.
You can see them all from your vantage point, so make sure your drone is charged up, as you might choose to fly here for a while.
Eagle Gorge #
From Eagle Gorge Beach, reaching Eagle Gorge is not too tough. You’ll see an entryway to Birgurda Trail as you near the gorge.
The lookout affords stunning views of the gorge and the beach below.
Your drone can get close to the action without getting too close, which is ideal since drones and water don’t exactly mix!
Natural Bridge – Castle Cove #
Natural Bridge – Castle Cove is the perfect place for picnicking and taking a scenic respite, featuring dual cliffside lookout spots.
As you gaze into the waters, you might see dolphins and whales, so make sure you’re quick to take a photo with your drone.
The winding path that is this coastal area showcases Island Rock, Grandstand Rock Gorge, and Shell House.
Z Bend #
Where Murchison River bends is the aptly-named Z-Bend.
This lookout spot boasts ample views of the river gorge. The layers of red rocks and their crooked, unique geometry will surely captivate you!
The Loop and Nature’s Window #
One of the most iconic sights at Kalbarri National Park bar none is The Loop and Nature’s Window.
Nicknamed Nature’s Window because of the great vantage point, the banded rocks across the river gorge here feature white and red hues and rippled layers.
The rocks date back millions of years, when they started on tidal flats.
The Loop features rocky overhangs with ancient worm fossils.
Don’t fly your drone too close, as you don’t want to collide with these rock structures!
Meanarra Hill #
A main attraction at the park, Meanarra Hill has a shade shelter and several lookouts.
You’ll also find the Malleefowl Trail Loop Walk here if you want to access the Meanarra Hill Lookout that way.
The small loop has great panoramic views of tree-lined Australia, so make sure you set up shop here for at least a little while when exploring Kalbarri National Park!
Pot Alley #
The crashing waves kiss the rocky cliffsides that comprise Pot Alley.
Although it’s a bit of a challenge to get here on foot, once you arrive, you should plan to spend hours so you can capture Pot Alley’s beauty!
Kalbarri National Park in Australia allows drone pilots to fly amongst its beaches and perilous cliffs, affording you a rare opportunity to drink in the beauty of the park with your drone in tow.
Please always follow the park’s guidelines and CASA laws so drone pilots can continue to enjoy Kalbarri National Park for a long time to come!