A Guide to Cremation Costs & Arrangements

Information on arranging a cremation and the costs involved

Last updated: 28 November 2016

Many people choose the cremation process as an alternative to a traditional burial for their loved one. Figures show that around 75% of all funerals in Australia are cremations.

When deciding between a burial and a cremation, many people will take their loved one’s wishes into account. Cremations have made it possible for people to have their ashes scattered in a significant place, and more and more people are choosing to do this.

Cost of cremation

Cremations tend to be cheaper than the cost of a burial. This is because you do not need to buy a burial plot, which can cost several thousand dollars, or pay for a gravedigger’s services.

However, funeral director charges will usually be around the same for both services.

Arranging a cremation

If you have decided to organise a cremation, make sure you tell your funeral director as soon as possible. They will be able to contact your local crematorium to arrange a date and time for your loved one's cremation.

Crematoria can only hold a limited number of cremations at once, so your options may be limited by availability.

The cremation

Many crematoria have a congregation room where you can hold a funeral service or religious ceremony, if you wish. Some choose to have the main funeral service at the crematorium; others will have the service in a place of worship, then a brief committal service at the crematorium.

Usually, mourners follow the coffin into the crematorium, and the coffin is placed at the front of the congregation. At the end of the service, the committal will take place and the coffin is usually obscured by a curtain. Mourners are then invited to look at any flowers or notes that have been left for your loved one and the cremation takes place.

You may be allowed to witness the cremation, but you should discuss this with the crematorium beforehand. The entire cremation from start from finish can take several hours.

What to do with ashes after cremation

The spreading or burying of a loved one’s ashes can be an important part of saying goodbye. Before you make any decision about the interment of ashes, it's vital that you explore the options available to you

Australian law allows you to scatter or bury your loved one’s ashes on private land when the landowner’s permission is given. Remember that private land could one day be sold to another owner, potentially making visiting the site difficult for you and your family in the future. If you wish to scatter the ashes on public land, you should try to seek permission from the authority responsible for that land.

Another popular option you may consider is the interment of ashes on the site of a relative’s grave in a cemetery or churchyard. Be aware that although the grave site is already paid for, permission is still needed and additional costs may apply, especially if you are planning on burying the ashes.

You can also choose to have the ashes scattered or buried at a crematorium. This can be done by the crematorium staff or by a family member or friend of your loved one. At most crematoriums there will be an area that is specifically designated for ashes to be scattered or buried. This is sometimes called a Garden of Remembrance. If you choose to you can use this area to scatter the ashes, but it is important to note that the garden is for anyone to use and no area can be sectioned off for a specific person.

Spreading the ashes of your loved one over a lake, river or sea is another popular choice. No permit is required to do this. However, you should always be considerate of other people using the water.

Apart from scattering or interring ashes, you may choose to keep your loved one’s ashes at home in a decorative urn. Or, increasingly, people are opting for more unusual and personal ways of keeping the ashes of a loved one – some funeral directors offer the service to turn ashes into glass to make a unique memorial, or they can be transformed into jewellery.

Religious beliefs

There are certain religious groups that either frown upon or prohibit cremation. This may influence your choice of burial or cremation. Groups that frown upon or prohibit cremation include some forms of:

However, many religious groups have now accepted cremation as an alternative to burial. If you have any questions, be sure to ask a member of the clergy belonging to your loved one’s specific religious group. They will be able to offer advice on what is accepted practice.