Drone Prohibition Guidelines (for Personal practices)

Norah Head Lighthouse Drone Policy

Environment and Heritage

Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve is overseen by the NSW State Government Office of Environment and Heritage as a public space and managed by the Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve Land Manager Board. The Reserve stands proud as a beacon of historical significance and a culturally rich site, providing the public the opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience of an iconic landmark. The Reserve itself includes:

  • A Lighthouse Tower offering daily Guided Tours
  • Two 4-star Keeper’s Quarters available for short-term holiday accommodation; and
  • On-site Reserve Manager’s Residence

Through the continued restoration of the Reserve, the space has become a popular location for various celebrations, including but not limited to, wedding ceremonies, receptions, festivals and special family events.

Flora, Fauna and Protected Species

The Reserve sits between Wyrrabalong National Park and stunning coastal beaches. With a plethora of flora and fauna, both common and protected species, the area is popular for its recreational activities and the ideal viewing platform for the annual migration of whales, moving north through May – June and returning south later in the year. Seals and sea lions, as well as pods of dolphins, can often be seen near the large rock shelf immediately below the Light Tower.

The Reserve Land Manager Board is responsible in for aligning its regulations for the use of unmanned aircraft in and over the Reserve in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Crown Land Management Regulation 2018 to protect the public space.

How close can an unmanned aircraft fly to whales, dolphins and dugongs?

In accordance with State Government Guidelines an unmanned aircraft (e.g. drones) are not permitted to be as closer than 100 metres to a marine mammal. Aircraft are not permitted to:

  • approach a marine mammal head-on for the purpose of observation
  • land on water for the purpose of observing a marine mammal.

For more information on the protection of marine mammals go to: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/whales/whale-watching-in-nsw/approaching-marine-mammals-in-nsw

Can I fly a drone in the Reserve?

Flying private drones in and over the Reserve can potentially cause irreparable damage to the unique heritage listed structures in addition to compromising the safety and privacy of visitors to the site and of tenants and guests staying in the quarters. Drones can also dangerously interfere with fighting bushfires and with other activities for managing and restoring the historic space. For these reasons their use over the Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve is restricted, without prior consent of the Land Manager Board (see Sections 9.4 and 10.6 of the Crown Land Management Regulation 2016).

Norah Head Lighthouse - Boundary Notice

Can a Plan of Management prohibit drones?

Yes, as part of NSW Environment and Heritage by-laws if a Plan of Management states that drones are not to be used this will be adhered to. Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve has erected signs on the Reserve and can further inform visitors by:

  • giving tenants and visitors a written notice
  • speaking to tenants and visitors

A copy of the flyer ‘Drones Guidelines’ can be obtained from the Lighthouse Tower between 10am – 1.30pm daily. Alternatively, a copy can be downloaded here: NHLH Drones Flyer – August 2019.

When can I fly a drone in the Reserve?

You CANNOT fly a drone without prior consent from the Reserve Land Manager Board.
The Land Manager Board may grant consent for the use of a drone if:

  • it will not annoy or cause risk to tenants and visitors, or invade their privacy
  • it will not be a nuisance or cause risk to wildlife
  • It will not be flown nearer than 30 metres from the Lighthouse and Tower or the boundaries of the Keeper’ Quarters.
  • it will not interfere with management operations on the consented day.

Note: If you are granted consent to fly, you are restricted to only flying the drone at the date and time and in the area covered by the consent.

How do I gain permission to fly a drone in and over the Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve?

I’d like to fly my drone for personal use
Please fill in the form and a representative of the Reserve Manager Board will be in contact with you via email.
Permission to fly a drone request form: https://norahheadlighthouse.com.au/drone-permission/

Due to the historical preservation of the Reserve as well as flying over public space, you must be covered by Public Liability Insurance. You will be asked to provide your policy number when you fill in the form.

I am flying my drone to Commercially Film or Photograph
If you will be using your drone to film or photograph for Commercial purposes go to the Commercial Filming and Photography page.
Learn more >

You will also need to fill in the Application for Commercial Film and Photography.
Go to application form >

What to do if I am granted consent to fly a drone on the Reserve?

If you are granted permission to fly a drone, before you start flying you should follow the guidelines from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for drone use. These say that for personal use drones must:

  • always be in sight of the operator
  • not fly over populous areas
  • stay at least 30 metres from other people, vehicles, boats and buildings
  • stay at least 5.5 kilometres from an airfield.

You should also;

  • carry your drones license at all times whilst flying your drone
  • The Land Manager Board will provide you with a written letter stating you have been granted permission. You are required to carry this letter when using your drone at the Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve. You must provide this letter as proof of authority to fly. If you cannot provide the written authority you will be asked to cease immediately.

General information on flying drones in public spaces

For further advise please go to:

The Australian Government – Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) website:

NSW Environment website: