North Queensland Drone Workshop

On Saturday 2 July I’m running a unique drone workshop in Townsville (North Queensland). It’s only the second one on my own doorstep; I’m often away travelling.


  • Anyone who already owns a drone or two, who is looking to step up to the next level (fill in knowledge gaps & pick up more tips). If you have a lot of hands-on experience but haven’t undergone any training you’ll be surprised by how much else there is to learn and make use of in this workshop.
  • Professional photographers wanting to expand their services to include aerial photography
  • Licenced drone pilots (RePL & ReOC) who want to learn a stack of tips that aren’t included in CASA-related training (EG practical business realities)
  • Anyone considering buying a drone, who doesn’t know where to start
  • Both recreational & commercial drone pilots – I run a small business and drones are an integral part of it, so this workshop includes practical first-hand advice. However the workshop is equally useful for recreational drone pilots, not just business users.
  • Industries – my work involves professional aerial photography, writing, social media, agriculture & travel and I’m connected with people using drones in a wide range of industries, including mining and surveying. The content of these drone workshops applies to every drone use.
  • Town & country residents
  • All ages. Typically attendees range from late school age up to 80s. A mixture of ages is fantastic because conversations are a lot livelier and more interesting – everybody benefits. Under 16’s welcome but after a discussion with parents to ensure suitability.


I’ve been attending events for decades, running photography workshops for more than twenty years and drone workshops for six. Hands down, the most interesting and useful events are those that include a wide range of people. Participants are encouraged to share their questions, views and stories and everybody learns. A healthy diversity of people works especially well in the drone industry because it is so fast paced – no one person knows everything.

This is the training I looked around for when I started but could not find anywhere. It didn’t exist then and it still doesn’t – what I cover is genuinely unique. To learn what I know, I had to:

  • Attend a variety of drone training across Australia and elsewhere, eg Night Flight training in Arizona
  • Own more than 10 different drone models
  • Fly drones in every state & territory
  • Attend the world’s largest drone events on 4 continents, as a speaker & listener
  • Invested countless hours of research, which is ongoing

Years of experience, relevant for what you want to do, condensed into one day, right on your doorstep. No time or money spent travelling elsewhere. Super efficient and a bargain. What you learn just on best-practice battery management will mean the workshop pays for itself, as well as reducing the time wasted on problem solving and getting you better quality images.

This is global standard information – presented right here in North Queensland. If you scroll down to the bottom of the ‘About’ page on my website, you can see a list of the most recent drone-related interviews (Australian and overseas).

I run these drone workshops because nothing quite like this is being run by anyone else, anywhere – and I am dedicated to regional capacity building.

Tropical coast between Townsville and Ingham (drone photography). A lot of airspace around Townsville is a no-fly zone, without a CASA drone pilot licence plus special permission. However there are many great locations nearby to fly drones safely and legally and we can discuss good places to practice flying during the drone training session.


Please visit Eventbrite to book your North Queensland Drone Workshop ticket. Note that there is a $50 ‘early bird’ discount, too.


  • Buying drones: choosing between drone models; the pros & cons of the different features to consider in relation to your specific purposes, & where to buy. It includes some information on the two latest DJI drones, the Mini 3 and the Mavic 3 as well as an uncommon commercial drone – the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced (a thermal imaging drone).
  • Buying drone accessories: what do you need & what is a waste of money.
  • Vital laws every drone pilot must know – plus where to get reliable information, and understanding Townsville’s airport & defence airspace restrictions as well as national park rules.
  • Safe flight & problem avoidance – this will save you some headaches.
  • Drone software difficulties – tips on how to conquer the inevitable glitches (an especially useful & unique session; briefer than it used to need to be though, because today’s drone software is less glitchy)
  • Battery management – how to keep your expensive drone batteries working optimally for as long as possible, and ensure they do not burn your house down.
  • Aerial photography (stills) & cinematography (videos) – two topics that are large enough to cover 2 days on their own. How much detail we go into here depends on the specific interests of participants on the day (& time available). We cover the fundamentals, address the most common drone photography issues, plus some advanced tips – and I go into extra detail in response to particular questions or problems anyone has. Two things I don’t cover: digital manipulation of still images and video editing. This is because these two topics are time-consuming specialist fields already well covered by a plethora of ground photographers, in workshops and online. There’s also a huge amount of personal preference involved in digital manipulation (what some people think is great others think is a waste of time & energy, and money spent on complicated software.) Workshop time isn’t endless, to I don’t cover what others do a good job of – instead focusing on content that you will not find online or in any other drone training.
  • Info sources – where to obtain reliable drone information; plus which online drone groups to join and the bear pits to steer clear of.

Other drone topics that can be discussed in a little or a lot of detail, depending on participants on the day:

  • Travel – carrying drones on planes and rules in other regions.
  • Image & flight data admin – what isn’t covered in any other drone workshops or well summarised online (a brief section that will save you a lot of time figuring it out yourself). Especially useful for keen photographers.
  • Career & business opportunities for drone pilots – the time spent on this depends on specific participant interests – we can discuss what is realistic now & what the future holds.
  • Children & drones – what every parent should know; a short but vital section included if there are parents of drone fliers attending.
  • CASA drone pilot licencing & certification – is it relevant to you? For most drone owners it isn’t necessary; I explain the pros & cons if there’s anyone thinking of spending a few thousand on formal licencing (Remote Pilot Certificate, Aeronautical Radio Operators Certificate, Remote Operators Certificate. (This can be tacked onto the end of the day, for anyone with specific queries.)

Topics are super practical and based on solid years of experience – I cut to the chase and as I do not sell drones my advice is completely independent & objective. This is rare and it’s why I’m invited to speak at events across Australia & in other countries.

Cordillo Downs, South Australia (drone photography). Workshops are illustrated with Fiona Lake’s photographs, taken across Australia


DJI is the most common brand of consumer drone in the world, so this is what I use, so I can pass on thorough firsthand knowledge.  However most of what is covered during the workshop applies to all drones.

Experience & background:

Fiona Lake’s work involves photography, agriculture & travel but the workshop information is worthwhile for all drone uses; from recreational fun to industrial purposes.


Drone operators with hands-on experience but who haven’t undergone any training:

  • A lot of unanswered queries will be addressed – how your drone operates and CASA laws will make sense.
  • Tips to make your drone flying more enjoyable and efficient, plus realistic and effective business building ideas if you’re thinking of putting your drone to work.
  • If you’ve crashed a drone and don’t know why, this workshop may hold the answer for you and prevent a repeat disaster.
  • Discussing the latest news on new models will also be of interest.

New drone operators:

  • Feel confident enough to choose the drone & accessories best suited to your specific purposes (& understand if you need to trade-in what you already have) – saving you a lot of time and potentially money, as well.
  • Know what can and can’t be done with a drone & where to go to get future queries answered reliably.
  • Understand the basic aviation laws that every drone pilot must know, where to get detailed information, & know how to keep up-to-date with changes.
  • Be able to reduce the likelihood of hardware problems and able to solve most software headaches faster.
  • Parents will have a template for ensuring children fly drones safely, legally & rewardingly; and know which drones to buy for students.
Burdekin Falls Dam, North Queensland (drone photography). Aerial photography has existed for more than a century – but drones have now made it relatively cheap and easy for anyone to see the world from above.  Though drones look like toys they’re exceedingly complex machines and understanding them results in much better drone pilots.


All day. Because:

  • We’ll be covering a useful level of detail, having interesting discussions and a laugh along the way.
  • Attendees are able to meet one another & converse during the breaks – additional learning plus networking with people who share a common interest.
  • A full day of good quality content means it’s worth travelling to attend. I know how frustrating it is to find a workshop which looks good except that it only runs for 2 hours and just skims the surface – not enough substance to justify travelling a long distance for.
  • I jam a lot in – really it’s 2 days of content squeezed into one.

What day & time?

  • Saturday 2 July.
  • 8.30am for a 9am sharp start; finish at 5pm (but conversations can continue afterwards, eg drinks or dinner at a nearby cafe, if anyone is interested – especially travellers. Although sometimes heads are spinning with what has been learned, and people head off to process it all).


Arcadian Surf Life Saving Club, The Strand, Townsville (the Rockpool end). Walking distance to great cafes, accommodation and a splendid view out over the sea towards Magnetic Island.

How to book:

North Queensland Drone Workshop tickets are available through Eventbrite

(please note that there is an early-bird discount, too, for people who book early).

What to bring to the drone workshop – none of these items are essential but they are good to have, if possible:

  • Smart phone.
  • Notepad & pen. Do I supply printed notes? No I don’t, for several reasons: 1) my presentations are constantly being updated, right up to a few hours before they’re run; 2) When I printed out my presentation recently for another purpose, it cost $97 (B & W, double-sided!) – and most people don’t refer back to printed handouts, so it’s wasted dead trees as well as money; & 3) You’ll actually retain a lot more info if you make handwritten notes on the most relevant points for yourself. Participants are also welcome to photograph slides to refer back to for their own use, including the ‘list slides’ that I’ll point out.
  • Drone & accessories – if you own a drone please do bring it, although we will not be flying drones on the day. Hands-on skill is a surprisingly minor part of flying drones – it’s knowledge that counts. To illustrate this – while CASA does require Australian drone pilots to do a simple flight test before licencing, the FAA does not require American drone pilots to undergo a flight test. It is knowledge that makes a good drone pilot and there’s far more to flying drones well than anyone realises when they first buy one.
  • I will have all my drones, accessories, cases, manuals etc at the workshop for people to view – far more gear than I’m usually able to bring to a drone workshop, because I only live a couple of suburbs away!
Drone night flight training with Sundance Media, Las Vegas. Flying drones at night is illegal in most countries, without being licenced and trained – because there are additional safety risks. (Mobile phone image)


I’m one of Australia’s best qualified & most experienced drone pilots:

  • 2022 AirWards ‘Education & Research’ category – one of 6 (global) finalists
  • 2021 – Industry ‘Safety & Education’ award from Australia’s largest drone organisation, AAUS.
  • 2020 – Winner of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Star Prize for Photography, with a drone image. (The IFAJ has more than 50 member countries.)
  • Also a number of other awards and peer recognition. Including Chicago-based Women and Drones – one of ten ‘Women to Watch in UAS’ (unmanned aviation systems); ‘Rural Drone Academy’ – AgriFutures Rural Woman of the Year finalist for Queensland, one of the Queensland Government’s ‘Community Digital Champions’ & Queensland Government ‘100 Faces of Small Business’, Qld Rural Press Club awards and photography judge for a variety of competitions.
  • Fully licenced by CASA (Remote Pilot Licence & Remote Operators Certificate), certified to fly at night, and a level 1 thermographer.
  • Attended training & workshops in various locations across Australia and overseas, eg night flight training in the US.
  • Received repeat invitations to speak at the largest drone events on four continents and invited to run drone presentations in every state & territory except one. 
  • Owned more than 10 different drone models and flown drones in every state and territory.
Fiona Lake’s 2018 exhibition at the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. was opened by Australia’s Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey


  • If this workshop had been held on the other side of Australia when I was starting out, I would have jumped on a plane to attend because it would have been well worth it. This is the level of useful that I will provide for you.
  • After the official end of the day there is the option to continue conversations over dinner at a nearby cafe.  The training location is situated near cafes looking out over the sea towards Magnetic Island and there’s good hotel accommodation nearby.  The icing on the cake of events is often the great conversations after the official conclusion – it’s where you find the keenest people, and other queries arise after people have had time to think about the deluge of info I hit them with during the day. On the other hand you might be knackered and need to go home for a lie down! This is a full-on day, you get value!
  • Training & direct costs are usually tax deductible if drone usage is genuinely involved in producing your current year’s income. But do check with your accountant as everyone’s situation differs.
  • If you are considering visiting Townsville to attend and would like any information on accommodation, what else there is to do, likely weather or anything else – don’t hesitate to ask.  There is a lot to see and do in and around Townsville – with the start of the wet tropics 60km north, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast, the Burdekin Irrigation Area 60km south and outback cattle stations just over the ranges to the west.
  • This drone workshop has been designed to suit visitors from elsewhere as well as locals. Even during Covid lockdowns, it was common to have people attend drone workshops from other states or more than 1,000km away.
View from the Strand towards Magnetic Island, Townsville, North Queensland. There is a lot for visitors to do. (Mobile phone image)


  • I also present aerial photography masterclasses, usually over two days, however like the ‘drones in agriculture’ workshops I present, they are normally hosted by others and held in distant regions. Aerial photography is a specialty topic so attendees usually come from a large catchment (including interstate).
  • Participants get the best value from aerial photography workshops if they are a) already using manual camera settings on the ground or are b) already trained/experienced drone pilots. Learning the technicalities of photography and technicalities of drone flying at the same time is do-able it’s just not ideal.
  • Please let me know if a drone photography session is something you may be interested in.


I don’t have the resources to organise workshops except on rare occasions, and this is only the second drone workshop I’ve organised on my own doorstep. I travel a lot, presenting at events in response to invitations from host organisations. 

If you’d like drone training in your area then please do let me know if  you get a group of interested participants together or get an organisation interested in hosting a drone workshop (either a one day general interest or ag drones workshop, or a two day aerial photography masterclass).  I travel all over, presenting workshops/training/public speaking for local councils, industry organisations etc.  Minimum numbers are required to keep costs down, and it’s best to plan in advance to ensure your preferred date.



  • $325 per person (includes booking fees & GST) for early bookings. The price rises closer to the date.
  • Light lunch plus morning tea
  • Stationery, tea & coffee – everything to make it an easy & relaxed day
  • In a great location & fully airconditioned
  • Attendee numbers capped, in order to ensure personal attention
  • I’ve kept the cost of this workshop low so it’s affordable for anyone travelling a long distance


  • Payment due: on booking, via Eventbrite, to secure a place
  • Booking deadline: Thursday 30 June (5pm) – however note that the cost is much cheaper for early bookings (see Eventbrite for the prices and dates)
  • Refund policy: for attendees who cancel: a full refund up until a week beforehand. If the workshop has to be cancelled for any reason (including Covid19 restriction changes): a full refund is given to participants or a credit to attend the rescheduled event, whichever is preferred by participants.
  • Note: this event requires minimum number to run, so if you know others who may like to attend, please encourage them to book too! Thank you 🙂


Reserve your place at the only 2022 drone workshop held in North Queensland via Eventbrite

If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to ask! Options:

PS: A ticket to North Queensland’s Drone Workshop could be the ideal gift, especially for someone hard to buy for.

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