The Alternatives to Traditional Funerals in Australia

Our lives are celebrated through the milestones we share, and coming together as a family can be a special time. But there’s one event which many of us don’t like thinking about – funerals.


Even if it makes you uncomfortable, having a plan in place for your funeral means your life can be celebrated in a way that is true to your values. It may also relieve pressure on those you leave behind.

A funeral doesn’t have to be a sombre affair. Because so many people choose to be buried or cremated, most funerals are held in funeral homes which have the necessary facilities. Traditionally, a funeral ceremony will include some religious elements like hymn singing and prayers.

If you’re not religious, or you feel a strong connection to nature, however, there are other options available. Here are some types of funerals you may not have considered:

Burial on private property

The rules differ in each Australian state and territory, but you can apply to be buried on private land. This can be a touching way to connect to family origins or a physical place which has a special meaning for you or your family.

Natural burial sites

Most states have approved natural burial sites, where native vegetation flourishes without pesticides or herbicides. Burial without a coffin is allowed at these sites. This could be a suitable option if you feel a strong connection to nature.

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Burial at sea

This is an option, although it can be complicated. It requires some planning, including applying for a permit and choosing a location which meets local regulations.

If you want to be cremated but you don’t want a traditional funeral service, you can go for a ‘no-service funeral’. This is where a funeral home will do the cremation and return the ashes to your loved ones.

There are lots of creative options for what to do with ashes:

  • Scatter them in a memorable place (check local laws for any restrictions)
  • Plant the ashes in a biodegradable urn with a tree sapling and become a living memorial
  • Have the ashes made into a piece of jewellery
  • Be put into a vinyl record of your favourite song
  • Store ashes in a traditional urn at home
  • Mix the ashes with paint and become a work of art, or
  • Put a portion of the ashes into a teddy bear, so those who miss you can give you a hug.

There really are no requirements for funerals, that’s why it’s a good idea to make sure your will reflects your wishes and that you have a financial plan in place to cover the costs.

Every type of funeral will have some costs associated with it, because a person or company will have to provide a service at some point down the line. These might include a coffin, flowers, cremation or burial or travel costs for relatives who live far away.

Funeral insurance can help you make sure you’re covering the costs and not leaving a legacy of debt. It can make a difference when the time comes, and remind your loved ones that you are, and always will be, there for them.