Cremation was a common practice in ancient times, as it was believed that fire acted as a purifying agent. The earliest known cremations in Australia were thought to be done on a log pyre.
Evidence found in Western New South Wales at Lake Mungo indicates that indigenous Australians were likely practicing cremation about 40,000 years ago. The Aboriginal’s mortuary practices varied considerably across the country prior to the arrival of Europeans. In the Sydney region, early settlers used cremation and burial for corpse disposal, cremation being the more common of the two methods.
During his 1801-1802 expedition to Tasmania, Nicolas Baudin noticed that some people carefully preserved calcified bones or ashes of loved ones. Later accounts confirmed that relics and ashes were kept in small pouches and carried or worn around the necks of close relatives of the deceased.
In 1891, cremation was first legalized in South Australia. By 1903, a crematorium was built in West Terrace Cemetery and a cremation bill was passed in Victoria that regulated and formalized the practice, limiting it to certain cemeteries.
In 1925, the cremation bill passed in New South Wales and the Rockwood crematorium was opened shortly thereafter. It is the oldest operating crematorium in Australia and currently performs approximately 2500 cremations each year.
Today, cremation has become increasingly popular in Australia. Records show a cremation rate of 54%, a figure that continues to increase by half a percentage every year. Our crematory sales team is happy to help with new or existing crematoriums, as well as animal incineration units.