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The Ultimate Guide to fly your drone over Sydney's Opera House & Harbour

Updated: Jul 23, 2019

🖐 In this blog post we’ll share all known regulation around recreational and commercial drone use over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour more generally located in New South Wales, Australia. Give a 👍 at the end of this post & feel free to share your experience or any updates you might have in the Forum. Keep in mind that the content below is updated to the best of our knowledge & does not replace official sources & your research.

Aerial Photo of the Sydney Opera House
Aerial Photo of the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera house is located in the State of New South Wales which follows the common rules of the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). If you're looking for the unmanned aerial vehicle rules of Australia then click here.

As for a shortcut, no matter where in New South Wales (NSW), you should fly:

  • at a maximum altitude of 120 m above the ground.

  • away from private property, vehicles in movement, people or large crowds (including over beaches, stadiums or parks) & respect individuals' privacy.

  • at least 5.5 km away from airports (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft or helicopter take off & land) & give way to all other type of aircraft.

  • only during permitting weather & within your sight at all times.

  • away from areas where its use could interfere with police or first responders.

  • avoiding sensitive areas including government or military facilities.


Can I fly a drone over Sydney's Opera House & Harbour?

Sydney Harbour can be considered as one of Australia's most restricted airspace (after airports) which will make it really hard to fly there if you don't have any permissions but there is a secret spot. See below the map provided by the app "Can I fly there", as you can see there is a lot of nasty colours here..

There are several reasons for these but the main one being the amount of activity happening in this gorgeous bay all day long. Sydney Harbour is indeed one of the busiest in the world as it welcomes:

  • 5 ferry lines operating with dozens of ferries.

  • High speed jet skis, boat tours and thousand of private sailboats.

  • Ferry cruises including huge cruise ships with capacities of 6,000+ passengers.

  • Harbour Bridge with its 8 car lanes + 2 train lines (the largest bridge in the world).

  • Australia's oldest airport, Sydney Seaplane Airport.

  • Helicopters from tours, news and emergency services.

When combining all these factors, it is easy to understand why Sydney Harbour Bay, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are so hard to fly over.

See what happened in the past with a drone hitting the Harbour Bridge:

Today, to fly a drone for:

🚨 Recreational use: is unfortunately not allowed almost everywhere over Sydney and Sydney Harbour Bay.

Commercial use: it is possible for you to fly there for commercial purposes (movie, aerial photography, etc.) but you must apply for a permit and have an Australian license to obtain it. You can apply for a permit from this link. Note hat if you fly close to the Sydney Seaplane airport you will need a radio system to operate and keep in touch with seaplane pilots.

Watch out for sea mammals!

🐳 Marine life in New South Wales is strictly looked after; you should fly no closer than 500 m from any sea mammals in New South Wales (🦈 Sharks are not sea mammals btw) 🧐 There aren't many sea mammal in Sydney Harbour but you might spot from time to time seals near Manly or dolphins entering the bat and occasionally a whale or two..

🎬 Time for a little movie ("Don't forget the popcorn please!"🍿).


Which other places can I fly my drone in Sydney (NSW)?

To find if you can fly somewhere, the best is to check the "Can I fly there?" App.

✅ By studying it, we've identified a couple of sweet spots to fly your drone around Sydney:

  • Dee Why & Long Reef Point (be careful of the nearby private golf club as you will need permission to fly above this one).

  • French Forest & Davidson Suburbs which are free of any nearby heliports or hospitals.

Here you will find a more detailed post about flight zones and rules in New South Wales. If you're travelling all around Australia then check out this post.


Once you got everything in order, you can start flying over Sydney Harbour Bay's awesome landscapes and create videos like this one:

✅ Please leave a comment or update the Forum when you receive news and/or gain experience with your drone over Sydney! Have fun and safe flight!


Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone rules and regulations.

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