A Guide to Burial Plots in Australia

When a loved one passes away, choosing a burial plot that's right for your family can be a daunting task. Read on to find out more about burial plots within Australia.
A Guide to Burial Plots in Australia

There are many different factors to consider when purchasing a new grave. Here are some things to ponder for when (or before) the time comes;

Cemeteries and Memorial Parks

Firstly, you will need to decide on a cemetery or memorial park. Oftentimes families will choose a cemetery or memorial park where other family members are buried, and other times families will choose a location they have visited before, or somewhere near to their home. For example, they may recall having previously visited a particular cemetery and really liked the atmosphere or surroundings.

Things to Consider

It’s always a good idea to contact the cemetery to check the availability of plots. This is particularly important if you would like to be buried in a specific part of the cemetary or a type of grave. Although you can do this after a loved one has passed away, many cemeteries and memorial parks will allow you pre pre-purchase new graves (subject to availability). This can be a good way to secure the grave site you desire.

It is also important to note that if you want to pre-purchase two graves for separate interments, for example, if you’d like to purchase graves side by side for yourself and your partner, it is best to purchase them at the same time. That way you can guarantee their proximity.

Your options in selecting specific rows within burial areas (for example, a grave facing east in Row E, or a grave away from the road in Row F, etc) can differ depending on whether or not the cemetery or memorial park is publicly or privately owned, and their specific policies and procedures.

When organising an immediate burial at a public cemetery, funeral directors will typically organise the paperwork and bookings. However, they will often encourage you to pay the cemetery or memorial park directly. This is because graves purchased at public cemeteries aren't subject to GST.

Burial Options

Lawn Graves - Headstone

These are one of the more popular and traditional options available. Lawn Graves are set in rows and feature an inscribed marker positioned at the head of the grave, usually made of granite or marble.

The range of headstones available will vary depending on the cemetery or memorial park chosen. Some may include a standard headstone (and foundation, known as a prefabricated concrete beam) with the new grave purchase and others will require you to engage a stonemason to assist you privately. 

Lawn Graves - Plaque

These burial plots are set in rows and encompass a plaque either set on a beam or a granite, marble or concrete base at the head of the grave. After the burial has taken place, families can organise a plaque to memorialise their loved one. Cemetery or memorial park staff will often assist with this, depending on your particular needs.

Monumental Graves

An option which allows for families to engage a stonemason to design a custom memorial which spans the entirety of the grave. In consultation with the family, stonemason can construct and create a monument after a service has taken place.

Burial Vaults

Burial vaults are precast concrete lined graves. The bottom of the grave, along with the sides or walls, are lined with concrete. The lid, which acts to seal the vault, is also entirely made out of concrete. When burial occurs, the lid is removed and the coffin or casket is hand lowered into the concrete vault. Sand is then used to backfill the vault before the lid is placed back on. A stonemason can be engaged to then create a stone monument. Some cultures prefer burial vaults rather than more traditional options.

Mausoleum Crypts 

Mausoleums hold traditional and cultural significance. A mausoleum is a standalone building designed for the interment of bodily human remains, which are individually placed inside crypts, housed above ground.

Most crypts are sealed with marble or granite with the name of the deceased inscribed on this seal, families can also organise to include a photo. Vigil lamps and flower vases are usually included. You might also inquire with the cemetery or memorial park about whether you can establish a private mausoleum for your family.

Natural Burials

This eco-friendly option is great for combating your environmental footprint as it returns a loved one's bodily human remains back to nature. Natural burials occur in designated areas of sustainable native bushland maintained by the cemetery staff.

Loved ones of a deceased must adhere to strict guidelines if they wish to proceed with a natural burial. A coffin or casket must be made out of all natural materials and no chemicals may be used to preserve the deceased, such as those associated with embalming. It is also worth noting that no memorialisation will be allowed in these areas.

Furthermore, unlike with other burial options, natural burial plots are restricted to one interment only. This is due to the eco-friendly nature of these sites as mentioned. Not every cemetery or memorial park will offer an eco-friendly burial option, so it's best to do your research if you think this may be the best option for you and your loved ones.

Interment - one or more?

Most graves will allow for more than one interment, unless otherwise specified. Put simply, this just refers to the amount of deceased persons that will ultimately be buried inside the grave. Usually, graves will allow for at least two interments, however it's not uncommon for a grave to be dug for up to three interments.

When filling out the paperwork with your funeral director or when pre-purchasing a grave site, you will be asked about the number of interments you desire. If you are unsure about whether you will be reopening the grave again for another loved one to be interred, it is imperative that you select more than the one interment.

If you only select one interment, and you change your mind at a later point in time after burial, an exhumation would have to take place in order to redig the grave to accommodate another interment.

Which one is right for me?

What sort of grave you choose to purchase may depend on a few factors. These can include;

  • Your cultural or religious requirements
  • Your budget
  • The location of the cemetery or memorial park
  • Availability at your chosen cemetery or memorial park

It's important to consider these factors and how they may affect you and your family in the future. Take the time to discuss the various options together and the process involved with each. 

Visit your chosen location

Making an appointment with a staff member to visit your preferred location is always a good idea. They will inform you of all the finer details and can provide you with comprehensive literature to help you make an informed decision. They will also be able to offer support and guidance through the process of purchasing a grave.

Did you know?

Burial plots aren't just exclusively for bodily human remains. You can also arrange interment of ashes in some existing graves. This gives you flexibility in circumstances where loved ones may have different preferences when it comes to burial or cremation, but still wish to be interred together. This service isn’t offered at all cemeteries, so it’s best to contact the relevant cemetery or memorial park, or your funeral director.

When a loved one passes away, there are many decisions to be made and it can feel overwhelming. Prepaying for your funeral with Willed removes the financial burden and stress from those that remain behind. It also allows you to outline your wishes, including the type of grave you might like.

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