Three things to consider when saying goodbye to a loved one

It’s increasingly common these days for our loved ones to request that their ashes be scattered in a place they

It’s increasingly common these days for our loved ones to request that their ashes be scattered in a place they loved; this could be in the garden, at sea or in a park. But, while Australia is reasonably relaxed about how and where we scatter our loved ones’ ashes, there are a few things you need to consider.

Seeking permission

If the place you wish the remains to be scattered is private property, be sure to request permission from the land owner, this could include the Trust of Parks or reserves. For public land such as beaches, parks or playing fields, you will need to check first with the local council. The reason for this is that scattering ashes could contravene the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 in terms of air or water pollution, according to this NSW government fact sheet. Council may also impose some restrictions, such as the time of day or a specific place in the area that the ceremony can take place.

Scattering ashes in the sea

This common request comes with a few logistical challenges. First of all, how far out do you need to be and what access will you have? You could paddle out in a kayak, hire a boat or simply stand knee-deep in the water. Many boat-hire or cruise companies offer services for those wishing to scatter ashes far out at sea, or in a more remote spot on a river, for example. To give you an idea of cost, this company charges $1300 for a service with up to 20 people.

The Australian Department of the Environment advises that no permits are required to scatter ashes into the sea, however you will need to ask permission from the master of the boat or vessel. And remember that you should never throw the urn or container holding the ashes into the water as it could float or could pose a threat to wildlife.

Some considerations

Obviously your first consideration is the wishes of your loved one and those who mourn them. When you choose where to commit the ashes, you will be thinking about what they would have wanted. But also think about the future of the their final resting place, particularly if it’s on land. Could the park be developed one day? Could it become private property or be inaccessible for another reason in the future? Will you be okay with moving away from the garden if that’s where you scattered the ashes?

On a practical note, to make sure things go smoothly, remember to loosen the lid of the container holding the ashes, or to pre-drill holes to make it easier to scatter the ashes. Be aware of the direction of the wind and empty the container close to the ground or water.

Have you commemorated a loved one (person or pet) in this way? What tips and advice do you have to share? Where would you want your ashes to be scattered?



  1. It is only ash ,,,,the soul has Long departed ,,,,,,mine are in the wardrobe and will stay there

  2. Brian Abbott  

    Great idea in Jurien Bay (WA). The Men’s Shed is constructing an artificial reef in about 8ft of water. The cement blocks being used are drilled, and the hole offerred for people wishing their loved ones ashes to be part of the reef.They go out in a boat with the block and watch it over the side. Loved ones then swim to the reef to see where it is placed.

    • Trish – I was going to post something similar. But the narks here always make nasty comments about “that wasn’t necessary” and “thats totally inappropriate” that I’ve given up posting my sense of humor. But it is a warning, check the wind !

    • yes, it was a windy day the day we scattered our dad’s ashes, we learnt from that experience !! a few years later when we scattered mum’s we made sure we were up side of the breeze !!!

    • Or take the dog! When we sent my sons ashes down the river his staffy kept jumping in and bringing the little boats back. I understood how she felt

    • when we scattered mums ashes both my brother and I had our dogs with us, when my brother saw the orcas just beyond the breakers he remembered wild life films where you see orcas leap out the waves and grab seals on the beach in the Arctic !! he made our dogs sit way back from us, I must admit a little hope that the orcas realised we were people and not dinner !!!

    • Rhonda O’Keefe I understand completely, I have been on the receiving end a few times. But, I am easily amused. I love it when people don’t agree with you and they resort to abuse or sarcasm. If only they knew how amused I get they would maybe rethink things.

    • sorry to hear of your loss Sue, I lost my 23 year old son in almost 21 years ago in a work accident, still feels as bad now as it did then.!!

    • Sue Todd OMG Sue, I so love your comment, I know it would have been a sad time for you and please don’t take it the wrong way but, it would really have cracked me up, I love Staffys and my imagination runs crazy as to what the dog was thinking.

    • Trish Honeybrook, there were about 70 of us camping for the long weekend, we all laughed at the dog. It was a great weekend, work friends of David’s I’d never met and childhood friends I hadn’t seen for years. They all had stories to tell that I hadn’t heard, so there was plenty of laughter mixed with the sadness. I treasure those memories

  3. My Sister, Mum and Grandma’s ashes are all buried in a garden on my other Sisters block. They will remain there until we need to rethink where they go. If the property is ever sold, we will probably put them in a wall in a cemetary but if it stays in the family we will just leave them there.

  4. I thought about sprinkling my late husbands ashes but decided to leave them in top of my wardrobe. When I die my children said they would sprinkle us both together forever

    • Yes… Apart from the small amount of my husbands ash that I used to make glass beads with, the rest I have kept. When I die we will be sprinkled together at our favorite place.

    • My Peters ashes are in the wardrobe also ,our son will scatter us both one day , I’ve a plot in the back garden that is especially nice in his memory ,the ashes are not him ,his soul left but his memory life’s on in our hearts

    • My husband and I have both agreed to save who ever goes first ashes , so we can be scattered together .

  5. we scattered both my parents ashes in the sea directly in front of their home, we just stood ankle deep in the water and scattered. when we scattered our mum’s ashes a pod of orca played just outside the breaker line, she would have loved that !!

  6. A lady at my craft group sent some of her husband’s ashes to England and had them made into synthetic diamonds. She then had the 2 yellow diamonds made into a pendant that she wears all the time. As she says her husband is always with her. I think this is a lovely idea.

  7. We scattered my late Husbands Ashes out to sea, what I did was got small containers and put the ashes in then a few for close friends that couldn’t be here for it went down to the beach that he had requested early on a Sunday Morning all had a container each and did it that way ,then went to a cafe and all had breakfast.

  8. We made little palm leaf boats, put a tea candle and some of my sons ashes in each one, and all his friends sent one off down the river at Jamieson, his favourite camping spot.. I think there were about 60 of them. Then we planted a tree at the spot

  9. We had an hilarious conversation about this with the family,who all have a warped sense of humour! I said I’d like a kind of Viking funeral,but with a Bali Hut on top of the boat,as I don’t like the cold! They all chimed in with more and more absurd suggestions,like standing on the shore and firing flaming arrows at the straw of the Bali Hut,but then they realised they’d have to get permission,so they decide to just put me in my sons swimming pool as they already have a Bali hut and amidst great howls of laughter I was given a grand send off fit for a Queen!

  10. A relatives x-wife passed to cancer in Victoria. They had 2 pre-teen girls together & her wish was to have the girls sprinkle her ashes in the sea (from the beach) at a certain beach in Qld that was very special to her. Father brought the girls up so they could for fill her wishes. As the girls started sprinkling the ashes a gust of wind blew some of the ashes back onto the girls. Surprisingly they didn’t cry but instead one said to the other “that was Mummy giving us one last hug”.

    • A former seafaring neighbour told me of an instance, many years ago, when his ship hove to in mid-ocean for the purpose of releasing the ashes of a deceased crew member.
      Exactly the same thing happened – a sudden gust of wind in the opposite direction.
      A comment about the deceased from one of the crew wasn’t as complimentary.

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