Drone review and buying guide

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It is becoming harder and harder to fly drones in Australia unless you have access to a rural/rural residential property…noting that as many Councils don’t allow their use in parks and it is near impossible to meet rules in urban areas.

The current rules for flying drones in Australia are here..

Even Pauline Hanson is being investigated by CASA for recently posting a video of her flying a drone out of a high rised apartment in Townsville.

There are significant fines for not complying with the rules… up to $9000.

They can also be very dangerous leading to many injuries (one of the reasons why they are regulated by CASA). There are many reports overseas of severe eye injuries (resulting in loss of sight in an eye) from drones…even the very small ones often thought of being small enough to be harmless.

Smaller ones can be harder to conttol and don’t have some of the ‘safety’ features of the larger commercial models.


Do drone packages have a health warning like cigarette packages - like “flying this outside your neighbours kitchen window may lead to serious injury” ? :wink:


This is what Defence contractor EPE manager Keith Mollison said at the recent Safe City conference in Brisbane.

Unfortunately while drone may be seen as ‘fun’ and a ‘toy’, they may not be ‘fun’ when something goes wrong.


We’ve updated our drone test with the latest performance, plus we’ve added an article on Australian law and drones.


If one lives in Brisbane and partakes in drone flying, Council has adopted some drone fly zones where users have the ability to fly their zones lawfully. These zones are:

  • The Common Park in Coorparoo
  • Preston Road Park in Carina
  • Carindale Recreation Reserve
  • Canterbury Park in Bald Hills
  • Lacey Road Park in Carseldine
  • Wishart Community Park
  • Voyager Drive Park in Kuraby
  • Cliveden Park in Fig Tree Pocket
  • Moggill Ferry Reserve
  • Keperra Picnic Ground Park

Choice might need to clarify further that the Qld Sunshine Coast Council bylaws impose further requirements on the operation of a drone.


[Under Sunshine Coast Regional Council Local Law No. 1 (Administration) 2011, it is an offence to undertake a prescribed activity, of which the operation of a drone is defined, without a valid permit. ]

[(o) launching or landing a model aircraft weighing more than 500 grams or a remotely piloted aircraft weighing more than 500 grams, other than an unmanned balloon or unmanned kite;]

The bylaws appear to be unrestricted by location hence would also apply to use on all private property.

Is this the same elsewhere?


It’s a source of ongoing amusement how far councils in general extend their reach … “Local Law No. 1” no less. I’m sure it covers more than just drones - other important things like skateboarding and kids riding bikes on land designated for important walking activities :wink:

No doubt in Queensland they have the authority to kick in your door to effect grounding of a drone flying in your living room …

I don’t think this is the same everywhere - where I live we still park on the footpath and light open fires in the yard … I don’t think drones would even be ‘on the radar’ so to speak …


Yes Brisbane City Council has similar restrictions in its Public Lands and Council Assets Local Law 2014. The Sunshine Coast and Brisbane local laws are based on a model local law, so any council which has develooed a local law based on the same model law will have the same restrictions. Typically, this would be most councils in Queensland.

In Queensland, Councils can regulate uses which occur on their lands, including those owned by councils such as parks and roads.

It is likely that councils regulate/restrict drone use as if they allow it to occur on one the land they own, it is likely that would take on take on (full or partial) responsibility/liability if something goes wrong. This is the case as they accept the use based on the risks imposed on other potential land users.

Councils traditionally have been very conservative and avoid any risks where possible, as any liabilities associated with these risks are passed directly to the ratepayer.

It is also worth noting that local laws can’t seen to be inconsistent with other laws, however, the restrictions placed on the community can be higher than other State or Commonwealth laws. Tecnically drones can’t be flown in most urban areas as it is near impossible to achieve the flying restrictions inposed by the Commonwealth (Brisbane CC appears to have found some locations where risks are low and that Commonwealth restrictions will be met). It appears that this local law and others just replicate these restrictions.

I also suspect that should one wish to gain an approval from Council, one would need need ro obtain Commonwealth approval first if it is required. If not, then any approval would be conditioned to he consistent with the requirements of the Commonwealth. One would need to demonstrate how the Commonwealth restrictions would be met.

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It’s good to know this is a more general requirement, at least for QLD. I’m not judging the value or practical application. The Choice guide on drone use is a great reference.

Living on a rural block I have had two instances of drone use by others over our property. One by a neighbour who lost a drone in the lantana and long grass. Probably not a good outcome but why there was any need to pop over the fence deserves an answer.

The other a commercial operator taking snaps of an adjoining rural lot prior to marketing and sale. This operator volunteered they held a CASA license. My curiosity was aroused as the drone had manoeuvred more than 100m over our boundary and above our infrastructure. Without knowing the purpose seeing a large commercial scale drone overhead with large lense camera was very disturbing. All our weeds are financial liabilities, and not opportunities.

I gather that there is no obligation to inform owners of such activities if for commercial use you need to fly over other property.

Beyond privacy considerations there are noise nuisance and physical safety hazards, even outside urban areas. It would be better if this gap was closed.


Do you have a reasonable fire hose? :wink:

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Thanks for the heads up, I’ll be sure to flag the article for an update :+1:


Only for putting out bush fires. Is 440lpm going to be adequate?


I reckon that should be adequate to properly quench the flames - anything orange/red could be mistaken for flames, and needs to be efficiently quenched …

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I want to buy a drone for my dad for christmas, does anyone have any recommendations or tips? Neither of us are technology savvy. Budget of 1-2K.
Cheers in advance.

Welcome to the Community @smudgenco,

The Choice links in the first post of this topic link to an open ‘Buying Guide’ that should be helpful.

@MattSteen, @PeterZaluzny, @BrendanMays , the link to ‘reviews’ and ‘how we test’ are, at the moment incorrectly linked to reviews of tracker devices. A search on the main Choice web site does not return a Choice test/review of drones but as with the linked tracker content, lots of hits about bluetooth trackers. Assuming there was a drone test it seems to have gotten disconnected or possibly retired?


Some dad’s are more tech savy than others.
Where is he likely to use it and what might it be used for? Two questions that might assist when looking at reviews of the more popular products. The $1000+ price range is suggestive of more professionally capable products (camera quality and or range/endurance). Lucky dad considering your budget.

I found the Choice buying guide useful answering the basic questions. I’ve a DJI product. I needed to pair it to a smart phone and for the smart phone to have mobile connection for initial setup and product registration. Assume it is a similar need for all but the most basic of drones.


Thanks PhilT, I read through the buying guide but as you said the review goes to bluetooth trackers and I couldn’t find anymore information than that.

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He’ll likely fly it around a bit take photos/videos. He’s a few years into retirement I’m trying to encourage him to get out of the house. But as I said he’s not tech savvy so needs to be easy to work out how to do that. I got him a cheap drone $2-300ish last christmas and he loved working it out (I had to show him how to pair it) but second day flew it into a tree and it was done. So I’m increasing the budget to cover obstacle avoidance. I won’t be with him this christmas and I’m concerned if it’s more expensive it might be too techy for him.
I’ve narrowed it down to DJI Mini 4 Pro it’s meant to be beginner friendly. I’m hoping it comes with an actual instruction/set up guide rather than a QR code or website link, he struggles with those. Once he’s got it set up he’ll be fine.
How was your DJI setup?

My setup - DJI Mini SE.
Required some thinking, patience and tech challenges. Note there was only a quick start guide with mine.

QR code, smart phone, downloads, registration which I fluffed around with for half the day and digitally thought provoking. Perhaps I was over thinking it. It will automatically configure/connect between the controller and drone providing the start up sequence is observed. I did however need a magnifying device to read the serial numbers for initial setup and registration.

Despite some trepidation and the time it took to get flying, I really like the product I have and its capabilities. Noted the Mini4 Pro offers the RC2 controller. My lesser version uses my mobile. The iPhone fits into the cradle for the remote control, but only after I removed it from its rubber case. You really need a bright outdoor screen if in full sunlight. All the control functions (other than direct flight and camera view point), drone settings and settings for the camera are through the touch screen.

The online flight instructions and tutorial were really detailed. They are essential to understanding all the basic operations, configuration and how to use the return to base function etc. The return to base is great, however it is possible to stuff it up and see the drone disappear into the distance.

The camera gimbal is relatively delicate. The clip on plastic storage cover needs a particular grip to remove and alignment to replace. No room for error.

I’ve a great many trees. No obstacle avoidance, so no comment on how effective it might be. Depending on model the avoidance function is limited in which axis of movements it can protect. It’s important (the regulations for legal use) that the drone is at all times within sight. My greatest fear is bird attack. Between nesting behaviours and territorial intent it’s always a risk.

You may be able to find a local interest group of like minded and patient drone users or seniors tech group to help out.

With dual joystick and auxiliary controls it’s far more challenging than driving a manual car. Although crashing is less likely to require …… hope it goes well.:slightly_smiling_face: