Bird’s-eye views

Footage filmed of Mount Elephant using a drone gives people a virtual tour of the reserve along with an informative commentary of its history and features. The video is one of several of the Camperdown district which can be viewed on YouTube.

THE majesty of Mount Elephant is now visible worldwide, thanks to the use of a drone to create a virtual tour online.

Camperdown resident Stephen Welsh first picked up a drone about eight months ago and was immediately hooked on the hobby.

“It’s great fun being in control and flying the drone,” said.

“It’s also great to see things from such a different perspective – from above.

“Looking down over Mount Sugarloaf is really special; it’s so much different than the views from the ground.

“I also flew the drone over Fitzroy River near Tyrendarra and that was pretty good too.”

With a background in Information Technology, Steven Welsh is combining his skills with his newfound hobby, flying drones, to produce virtual tours of local landmarks.

Mr Welsh has since progressed to the next level of the hobby and is editing the footage he takes into short films for others to see.

He has already posted footage of Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf, Lake Bullen Merri, Lake Purrumbete and Lake Bookaar onto his own dedicated YouTube channel.

“I work in IT (information technology), so I don’t mind sitting at the computer editing the images,” he said.

“Now word is getting around and I’m being asked to do more and jobs for all sorts of people and organisations.”

It was by word of mouth that Mr Welsh was approached to provide footage of Mount Elephant for educational and promotional purposes.

“I really enjoyed that project,” he said.

“I had three visits to the mount and really explored it with the drone and I’m pretty happy with the end result.”

The YouTube video runs for six and half minutes and includes stunning overhead footage, which follows the reserve’s walking tracks and features the mount’s main highlights.

A narrator adds to the experience by detailing the 140 hectare reserve’s history from pre-settlement days through to its public purchase in December 2000 for $200,000, its subsequent revegetation and the recent development of a visitor centre on the site.

Viewers begin their journey at the front gate made of volcanic stone and burnt railway sleepers (which symbolises the devastating Western Plains grass fires of 1944 and 1977), follow the walking tracks around the crater’s rim, are shown a permanently fixed replica of an 1850s Von Guerard painting of the area, and take in the sweeping views on offer.

Accessible to viewers across the world at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03Vd7OVIvrk&feature=youtu.be, the footage will also be on permanent display at Mount Elephant’s new visitor centre. The full suite of Mr Welsh’s works can be viewed on his facebook site facebook.com/skyhighdronemedia.

Though restricted from certain airspaces, such as over towns, Mr Welsh said the drone could fly at up to 120 metres for 20 minutes at a time.

“I was only allowed to fly at 45 metres over Mount Elephant because a couple of airports are located nearby,” he said.

“The batteries only last for 20 minutes, so you have to have a few spares on hand to stay in the air.

“It’s turning into a great hobby – the more I do, the more I enjoy it.”

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