Filming & photography

Location Cairns

The Cairns region is a spectacular location for photography and filming movies, documentaries, television programs and commercials.

Renowned internationally as the only location where two World Heritage areas - the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest – meet, our region offers spectacular, diverse and accessible locations, supported by world-class infrastructure and services.


We welcome commercial photography and filming and our permit process and policies are designed to facilitate and promote commercial filming activity.

A permit is needed for all commercial photography and filming on Council land, such as roads, parks, reserves and beaches.

Commercial filming includes advertisements, feature films, on commercial networks (eg pay TV and free-to-air stations) TV or internet drama, documentaries, educational films, Government-sponsored filming and tourism promotions.

Commercial photography includes images for magazines, postcards, commercial websites, promotional material, books and advertisements and the commercial photography of private events, including professional wedding photography.

Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. It takes 7 days to process an application for non-exclusive use of Council land and 14 days for applications for exclusive use of Council land.

Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Allow 7-days for non-exclusive use permits however these are normally processed within 2 days. Allow up to 14 days for exclusive use permits.

You do not need a permit for non-commercial activities.


Our fees are based on whether you require exclusive use of the site.

There is no fee for non-exclusive use of Council land but you are generally required to have public liability insurance of $20 million that indemnifies Council.

Non-exclusive use is defined as:

  • No more than 6 cast and crew
  • No significant disruption to stakeholders, retailers, motorists and nearby events
  • Activities are contained to footways or public open space areas
  • It is not necessary to close roads or divert traffic
  • Public safety is maintained at all times
  • Associated vehicles are parked legally at all times and are not driven onto footpaths or parks

Fees for exclusive use of Council land vary depending on, for example, the location, length of filming/photography, extent of disruption to the public and special arrangements for access.

Exclusive use of Council land will incur:

  • An application fee
  • Relevant fees and charges for using Council land
  • A bond
  • $20 million public liability insurance indemnifying Council

Exclusive use is defined as:

  • 7 or more cast and crew; and/or
  • Public access is restricted in the vicinity of filming; and or
  • Roads and footpaths need to be closed, in full or in part, or traffic and pedestrians for filming, vehicle parking or equipment placement or storage; and/or
  • Construction of sets or erection of infrastructure required; and/or
  • Equipment/lighting other than hand held equipment is needed; and/or
  • Unit base or bases are required; and/or
  • Special access to a location is needed (eg keys for locked gates, special permits, permission or passes are required)

Further details of fees and permit requirements are outlined on the Commercial Filming application form.

More information and assistance

For download

Last updated: 30 July 2018