In cities, cremation is more popular than burial and may be less expensive. Services for burial and cremation are the same, apart from what happens to the body itself. The service may take place in the local church or at a funeral chapel with a short committal service at the crematorium. Alternatively, the whole service may be held in the crematorium chapel, or may take place somewhere else entirely.

At the crematorium

At the crematorium, the coffin is brought into the chapel before the mourners arrive. At the appropriate time during the service, the coffin is removed from view either by curtains being drawn or by lowering or rotating it through an opening in the wall or ground.

Collecting and disposing of the ashes

It generally takes between one to two hours to cremate a body and coffin. Family can arrange to collect or dispose of ashes with the crematorium or through the funeral director. The crematorium will keep the ashes for several months until they are collected. Some crematoriums charge a packaging and preparation or storage fee. If next of kin don’t want the ashes they need to advise the crematorium who will dispose of them at their own expense. Ashes can be personally collected, but only by the person who arranged the cremation. Alternatively, arrangements can be made to have them scattered or stored in a niche, urn or memorial.

There are restrictions on where you can dispose of ashes outside cemetery or crematorium grounds. Contact the NSW Maritime or NSW Department of Environment and Heritage for more information. You may be prosecuted for pollution and fined if you breach their Acts by scattering ashes without permission.

It is important to get permission from the owners of private land or the Trust of Parks and Reserves, or from local council for parks, beaches and playing fields as scattering of ashes may contravene the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

There are no restrictions on scattering ashes in the ocean at least three nautical miles from the coast.

Religious attitudes to cremation

Orthodox Jews, Muslims and some other religious groups forbid cremation, but most Christian religions allow it. It is practised by Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.