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.
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.
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?