2 February 2022

Natural burials brought forward to new southside cemetery's first stage

| Ian Bushnell
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Southern Memorial Park bush cemetery

An artist’s impression of the Southern Memorial Park bush cemetery. Images: ACT Government.

The first stage of Canberra’s new public cemetery will now include natural burials in response to community demand, according to the tender for a detailed design of the facility leading to a development application.

The Southern Memorial Park (SMP) will be a major new cemetery to meet projected demand in Canberra’s south where there is a lack of burial, crematorium and memorialisation services.

Sited on Mugga Lane in Hume, the 76-hectare cemetery will be developed in four stages over the next 100 years and allows the current use for horse agistment to continue with minimal to moderate disruption over the next 50 years.

Stage 1 is in the south-eastern portion of the site adjacent to the Mugga Lane Solar Park.

The SMP will also be a bush cemetery, and the revised Masterplan released last year shows a natural setting as well as landscaped gardens.

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The first stage, intended to meet demand for five years, will include about 2500 burial plots, a new signalised entry on Mugga Lane, a works depot, car park and nature play area, and will now require between 113 and 165 natural burial sites.

The government had planned to leave the inclusion of natural burial sites until Stage 3 but has now brought this forward after community feedback to the draft Masterplan.

It has been given three sites to choose from – an area currently not being used within the Stage 1 boundary, a part of the traditional burial area, or an area outside but adjacent to the Stage 1 boundary.

But the first is the preferred option as it is located within the Stage 1 boundary and fenced area. It is a partially treed site, requires no major additional infrastructure, and there will be no impact until Stage 3 is built 50 to 85 years from now.

Natural burial site options for Southern Memorial Park

Natural burial site options for Southern Memorial Park.

It will mean a loss of about 145 gravesites but supply 120 natural burial sites.

A natural burial site will need some gravel paths and a memorial stone, weed management and the re-establishment of native meadow, and some extra geotechnical investigation.

A natural burial is where the body is buried in environmentally friendly coffins or without a grave liner.

Gungahlin Cemetery has offered natural burials since 2016, and by last year, Canberrans had purchased about 100 sites, 60 of which had been used, with room for an additional 500 spaces to meet future demand.

The successful tenderer will deliver a detailed design for Stage 1, a staged works implementation plan, construction-ready drawings, cost estimates and technical reports, including environmental, cultural and traffic studies to support a development application and other submissions.

Welcome garden at Southern Memorial Park

The proposed welcome garden at Southern Memorial Park.

Stage 2 will complete the main car park and provide a crematorium, memorial halls, an outdoor chapel, visitors centre, and an administration building to be built over the next 50 years, although the government has said the “the most-needed facilities” will be operational within a decade.

Stage 3 will take a further 35 years to complete and Stage 4 the next 15 years.

Woden Cemetery is at capacity, but the government says Gungahlin Cemetery still has enough space to service the Territory for the next 50 years.

According to the tender, the contract will be awarded in March 2022. A detailed design is expected to be ready for approval by January 2024 and a Development Application lodged in March 2024.

The tender closes on 17 February.

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Capital Retro3:57 pm 08 Feb 22

May be “good to hear” but not “good to smell”, Sybil.

I was walking near the Solar farm the other day. It was really stinky from the nearby tip. Not sure this is the best location to hold a funeral or visit your loved ones.

Capital Retro6:55 am 04 Feb 22

The odour isn’t coming from the landfill (tip), it’s coming from one of the largest open air green composting factories in Australia which is now mixing in rotting food and meat scraps to the process. The whole operation should be contained in suitable buildings.

I’ve written before on this blog about the total unsuitability of the adjacent site chosen for the cemetery and crematorium (more odours downwind). The access off one of the busiest roads in Canberra and the hazards posed by hundreds of heavy trucks using the MLRMC daily will make farewelling loved ones a nightmare.

The Liberal “opposition” will do nothing because Mark Parton was on the committee that supported the approval of the site.

Capital Retro7:04 am 04 Feb 22

And by the way bj-ACT, when you were walking near the solar farm did you notice the dozens of people that are supposed to be working there? Anthony Albanese claims that renewable energy transition from fossil fuels in Australia will create 300,000 new jobs so there must already be a lot employed on part time solar farms in and around Canberra.

Capital Retro,
So you’re saying the solar farms work with far less active operational controls and maintenance requirements?

Sounds like a good thing.

Capital Retro7:05 pm 03 Feb 22

The project won’t proceed past the first stage after people “on the ground” there find the odour of composting at the nearby MLRMC intolerable.

I hope there won’t be another crematorium…we already have sufficient capability to serve the needs of the community. Worse still will be the plan to build more funereal facilities next to Callum Brae reserve at Symonston. How many folks do we plan to intern, bury or cremate in the ACT and adjacent areas? That’s a LOT of capacity for 500,000 population at the most!

Well, the current mob of protesters want 5 million people to descend on Canberra. If that happens, Canberra’s sanitation infrastructure will be overwhelmed and we will have around a million stinking corpses of people dead from dysentry or cholera rotting in our streets.

Capital Retro9:05 am 03 Feb 22

Lots of foxes there so the graves will have to be deep to deter the foxes from digging up the bodies: https://www.scotsman.com/news/gruesome-find-foxes-dig-human-bones-grave-1725135

On the subject of foxes I was at Tiny’s Green shed not far from the proposed cemetery site several years ago and was amazed to have a very tame fox almost brush past me -the animal proceeded to pick up various small objects and placed them in a neat pile.I was told there were two such tame foxes around that often visited the area.I know foxes are an extremely serious environmental problem but I thought to myself how terrible it would be if these two were shot or poisoned!

Capital Retro8:16 am 04 Feb 22

Foxes are devastating to Australian native wildlife. They threaten the survival of 48 types of mammals, 14 species of birds, 12 varieties reptiles, and 2 types of amphibians. Foxes have already contributed to the extinction of many native animals.
Being indiscriminate feeders, they wreak havoc on native wildlife not accustomed to an apex predator such as the fox. Many native animals include ground-nesting birds such as the night parrot, and animals such as the quokkas, wallabies, and native rodents, many of which are endangered or vulnerable, fall prey to the fox. It has been suggested that foxes contributed to the extinction of the Desert rat-kangaroo.
Foxes also cause significant economic losses to farmers by preying on poultry, young lambs, and goats. An unsubstantiated claim puts the total annual cost of foxes to Australia’s environment and economy at $227.5 million per year.

I am sure we could speed things up by leaving the shrouded bodies on the surface like dumplings and let the local wildlife look after it. If they fill up on us then they won’t eat each other. A perfectly Green idea which I am surprised the environmentally aware ACT Government has not legislated in favour of. Maybe the Animal Justice Party could take this up. I do take your point Capital Retro, after working with natural resource management and the agriculture sector since the late 1990s that foxes, feral cats, wild dogs, feral pigs, and other invasive species have a significant impact on native species. Human beings are far more catastrophic due to land clearing, inappropriate chemical use and sheer bloody-mindedness that they can do what they like.

There is no need to convince me that foxes are bad as are cats -both wild ones and domesticated ones -I saved a top knot pigeon from the jaws of a neighbor’s cat only yesterday!

Bit like a corpse farm -I believe a corpse farm has already been opened somewhere in Australia -they are used for forensic purposes.

Capital Retro3:17 pm 04 Feb 22

Massively subsidised wind turbine generator farms create bird corpse farms wherever they are built.

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