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Natural Cemeteries

"Natural burial is the practice of burying a human body in the earth, in a manner that allows for natural decomposition with minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem."

Natural Death Advocacy Network

Currently in Victoria there are a few dedicated natural burial grounds, within existing cemeteries, and these are detailed below.

However, it is possible to follow the Natural Burial principles in a traditional burial plot within all cemeteries regardless of where the plot is. To follow natural burial principles at a traditional cemetery:

  • We would carry out only natural mortuary care (no embalming).
  • Suggest a body is shrouded within a biodegradable coffin/casket such as a timber coffin if a shrouded burial is outside of the cemetery’s guidelines.
  • A shroud or clothing if worn, is made of natural fibres, not polyester etc. The optimum material is made of natural, protein-based fibres such as wool or silk. Organic plant-based fibres such as hemp, linen and cotton are also acceptable. (This means that a shroud can comprise of everyday cotton bed sheets).*
  • Only one person per grave so the depth is not doubled; you may still have plots side by side. Traditional graves are at a depth of 6 foot / 1.82m.
  • Have a simple plaque marker or stone, rather than a large headstone (but the cemetery would guide on what is acceptable in each location).

Cremation – Please note that ashes can be interred by being buried or scattered within natural cemeteries.

* Further reading and resources via the Natural Death Advocacy Network: https://ndan.com.au/resources/natural-burial

Natural Grace will work with you and with the cemetery on your behalf, to get the best possible outcome for a natural burial, in a traditional cemetery

Traditional burial vs natural burial

SMCT
Image courtesy of Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
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GCT Moonah

Queenscliff Cemetery - Moonah Walk

Geelong Cemetery Trust (GCT)

  • Must use the cane lowering device for burials.
  • The Cemetery Trust works in conjunction with the family to have a boulder/bronze plaque erected at the gravesite to memorialise a person’s location.
  • Can have burials or ashes interments.
  • The Trust co-ordinates and completes all the planting of indigenous plants in this area for maintenance and re-vegetation.
Healsville Cemetery

Healesville Cemetery
Healesville

The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT)

  • Natural Burial area is within the established cemetery.
  • GPS co-ordinates only – name is placed on a large stone at the burial area ‘entrance’.
  • Burial depth is 1.2 metres.
Lilydale Memorial Park

Lilydale Memorial Park, Lilydale

The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT)

  • Natural Burial area is within the established cemetery.
  • GPS co-ordinates only – name is placed on a large stone at the burial area ‘entrance’.
  • Burial depth is 1.2 metres.
Bunurong Memorial Park

Murrun Naroon, Bunurong Memorial Park, Bangholme

Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT)

  • GPS co-ordinates only – name is placed on a large stone at the ‘entrance’ to the burial area.
  • Cannot mark the grave.
Carlsruhe Cemetery

Carlsruhe Cemetery
Carlsruhe

Independent Cemetery Trust

  • Natural Burial area is within the established cemetery.
  • Can mark the grave.
  • Can purchase one, two or three graves at once.
  • If purchasing three plots (side-by-side) two are for single internments at the legal minimum soil depth and the third is for the planting of indigenous shrubs to re-forest the land.
  • Depth of burial 1.2 metres.
Upper Yarra Public Cemetery

Upper Yarra Public Cemetery, Wesburn

Independent Cemetery Trust

  • Little Yarra bushland burial section, only natural burials are permitted, using fully biodegradable materials. 
  • Graves are marked with a biodegradable wooden post that records the details of the deceased. A wooden fence is at the entrance where a memorial plaque may be fixed. Each grave is mapped and surveyed.
  • Gravesites are restricted to a single burial.
  • Shroud burials also welcome.
  • Depth of burial 1.2 metres.
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Fryerstown Cemetery,
Fryerstown

Independent Cemetery Trust

  • Natural Burial principles are followed within the cemetery – no designated area.
  • Depth of burial is 1.2 metres.
  • Can mark the grave.
  • Can plant an indigenous shrub within the cemetery.
Beenak Cemetery

Beenak Cemetery
Beenak

Independent Cemetery Trust

  • Remote natural bushland setting.
  • Natural burial section is within established cemetery.
  • Grave can be marked with a headstone.
  • Depth of burial 1.2 metres.
Vaughan Cemetery

Vaughan Cemetery
Vaughan Springs

Independent Cemetery Trust

  • Natural Burial principles are followed within the cemetery – no designated area within this gold rush era cemetery with Chinese graves.
  • Depth of burial is 1 metre.
  • Can mark the grave.
Beenak Cemetery

Taralgon Cemetery
Gippsland

Gippsland Memorial Park (GMP)

  • all burials on site are singular and of shallower depth.
  • all coffins or cremation urns are to be made of natural sustainable material (wicker, plantation pine, wood).
  • all grave markings are smaller than traditionally used in cemetery grounds.
Vaughan Cemetery

Chewton Cemetery
Chewton 3451

Independent Cemetery Trust

  • Natural Burial principles are followed within the cemetery.
Kurweeton Road Cemetery

Kurweeton Road Cemetery
Derrinallum

Independent Cemetery Trust

  • Upright burial ground – people are buried feet first.
  • Cannot mark the grave.
  • Family can view the burial.
  • A tree is planted on Mt Elephant in honour of the deceased.
  • GPS co-ordinates only – name is placed on a large stone at the ‘entrance’ to the burial area.