Cremation or burial: How to decide what option is right for you

A comparison on the average funeral cost in Australia 

Death is never the most pleasant subject, and thinking about your or a loved one’s passing can be confronting.   

How do you pre-plan for the inevitable when it makes you feel uncomfortable? Yet it’s a necessity for many reasons – most of all, to ensure you have the send-off you wanted without it being beyond a cost you feel is fair.    

 It’s no easier when a loved one has died. If the many administrative tasks that come with someone’s passing are left to you to handle, it can be equally confronting. Even if they left specific instructions on the type of funeral, there are often many details left overlooked – including the cost.   

Whether it’s your own funeral or a loved one’s, finances can cause a significant headache, often dictating how a person is laid to rest.    

If you have never been through the funeral process before, how do you know what to expect regarding costs? What’s more, which type of funeral ensures you or your loved one receives a respectful and appropriate laying to rest?     

To help you through this tricky task, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on all your options for funerals and afterlife services – including what you can expect to pay for each one – helping you pre-plan your passing or respect a loved one’s last wishes.

What are the different types of funerals:  

  1. Burial  
  2. Cremation (with a service)  
  3. Basic cremation (no formal service)  
  4. Memorial Garden  
  5. Mornington Green   

Costs of Funerals Explored  



Burial is the most traditional method for laying a loved one to rest permanently.   

A basic burial in Australia typically includes the service or burial ceremony and internment of a coffin or casket into the earth. You may also want a concrete-lined vault within the burial plot, which prevents the coffin from sinking, although this adds considerable cost to the burial by thousands of dollars.

The fundamental burial costs can vary dramatically from one side of the country to the next – even within the state of Victoria, you will see huge price differences from one region to the next. That’s before you look at the cost of a funeral director, which while not compulsory, most people use to take the stress out of organising a difficult day. 

Then there are all the extras, too. Typically, additional burial costs include a headstone, flowers and decorative items – a bench or plants, for example. A headstone alone will add thousands to your funeral costs for an entry-level stone and engraving service, and perishables such as flowers will need replenishing regularly, incurring ongoing costs. 

Burial funerals currently range between $12,000 and $56,620*. 

Burial costs at-a-glance: 

Standard costs (burial, service, lawn grave plot, internment and funeral director) – $12-$24k 

Extra costs (gravestone, flowers, wake, cars) – $6-$29k 

Hidden costs (admin, grave depth check, weekend service fees, ongoing cemetery fees and maintenence) – $3,620 


Cremation (with a service)  

Cremation is a popular option for funerals nowadays for multiple reasons, not just because of the low costs. Some people prefer this path because it ensures a reduced carbon footprint, with an urn taking less space in the ground than a coffin; some urns won’t even make it into the ground, instead becoming a permanent fixture within the family home.

The cremation and service are just the start of your standard costs. The deceased must arrive in a coffin, usually in a hearse which is often followed by a procession of cars. You’ll need to pay for the celebrant to deliver a service and for use of the chapel and crematorium.  

If you are choosing to bury and commemorate the ashes, additional costs should be considered, starting with the urn. Simple or ornate, an urn can cost anywhere from $50 to $800. A burial plot, whether compact or large (to accommodate multiple urns), costs an average $5,000. Then there’s the commemorative plaque or headstone to pay for too – an additional $2,000 minimum.   

A cremation and accompanying services will cost between $3,000 and $24,000. 

Cremation costs at-a-glance: 

Standard costs (cremation and service, chapel, coffin, hearse, urn) – $2–$3.5k 

Extra costs (plot, plaque, flowers, wake, funeral director) – $11-$19k 

Hidden costs (Weekend service fees and maintenance) – $700-$900 

Basic cremation (no formal service)  

A stripped-down version of the traditional cremation, this basic option with no formal ceremony is the least costly of all funeral options. It is highly flexible, allowing you to move away from the crematorium to gather and celebrate the life of your loved one elsewhere – making it particularly popular among people with no religious ties.  

Even without the formal service, you still have other costs to consider – room hire for a wake, for example, which can range between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on the location. There is also the cost of an urn if you are having one, although many families choose to scatter the ashes in a place they cherish rather than retaining them permanently, negating the need for an urn.  

The cost of a basic cremation ranges between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on extras.  

Basic cremation costs at-a-glance: 

Standard costs (cremation and service, chapel, coffin, hearse, urn) – $2k 

Extra costs (plot, plaque, flowers, wake, funeral director) – $1-$6k 

Hidden costs – $0 

Are you heavily considering cremation or a burial? Here is a more in-depth analysis of the two options.

Memorial Garden  

This option is another popular one among people who wish to move away from the traditional cemetery or crematorium when laying a loved one to rest. A memorial garden provides a natural sanctuary where ashes are buried close to a tree or plants, beneath a rock or within a wall. Some families retain the ashes and lay a plaque of remembrance.    

Beforehand, there will be a basic cremation, for which you need to factor in the cost. Then there are the costs for the memorial itself – a place within the garden to eternally commemorate your family member. A commemorative plaque is often included in the cost. 

A memorial garden will cost approximately $5,000 to $12,800. 

Memorial garden costs at-a-glance: 

Standard costs (direct cremation, rose garden plot) – $5k 

Extra costs (rock, tree or wall in place of rose garden plot, wake) – $4-$14k 

Hidden costs (maintenance) – $300 

Mornington Green   

As with any cremation, you can take possession of your loved one’s ashes rather than burying the urn. Mornington Green infuse the ashes into a Legacy Tree – allowing the deceased to ‘live on’.   

Legacy Trees are growing in popularity for several reasons. They are typically lower in cost than a burial and provides family and friends with a memorial to visit without the carbon footprint of a grave. It also encourages the notion of giving back to the earth, which appeals to many people nowadays who look for sustainable options.  

The initial cost is similar to a basic cremation, with additional charges for the infusion process – which varies based on the type of tree, its size, and location. The good news is there are no ongoing costs to worry about – just a place to visit and cherish memories.

Legacy Trees start at $7,000 including GST.  

Mornington Green costs at-a-glance: 

Standard costs – Legacy Tree: $7,000, Direct Cremation: $1,500 

Extra costs – $0 

Hidden costs – $0 

Here is a guide on what to expect at Mornington Green.

There is a lot to consider when you’re planning or paying for yours or a loved one’s afterlife – and costs can soon mount up.  

To understand afterlife costs in full, read our comprehensive guide to funeral costs in Melbourne 2023. 

Funeral Industry Cost Breakdown  

Burial Cost Breakdown  

  Upfront Costs  Extras  Hidden 
Death certificate  $69     
Formal service (chapel and graveside)  $395     
Coffin  $1,000-$5,000      
Funeral hearse and cars  $400      
Burial plot  $1,470    
Burial vault  $1,000     
Internment  $1,470    
Funeral director   $2,000-$6,000   
Headstone    $4,000 - $18,000   
Headstone installation fees    $700    
Flowers    $300    
Wake    $1,000-$5,000    
Administration fees   $185 
Weekend service   $865 
Grave depth check   $550 
Annual maintenance      $300   
Recurring 25-year cemetery fees      $1,720   

Cremation (with service) Cost Breakdown  

  Upfront Costs  Extras  Hidden 
Death certificate  $69     
Cremation (chapel)   $1,205-$1,430     
Formal service (chapel) $340-$430   
Funeral hearse and cars  $400      
Cremation permit and certificate  $220      
Urn  $50-$800      
Funeral director   $2,000-$6,000   
Burial plot    $5,000    
Plaque    $2,400   
Plaque decoration  $535-$700  
Plaque installation fees    $170   
Flowers    $300    
Wake    $1,000-$5,000    
Weekend service   $400-$600 
Annual maintenance      $300  

Direct Cremation (no service) Cost Breakdown  

  Upfront Costs  Extras  Hidden 
Death certificate  $69     
Cremation $1,500   
Cremation permit and certificate    $220      
Urn   $50-$800    
Wake  $1,000-$5,000   

Memorial Garden Cost Breakdown 

  Upfront Costs  Extras  Hidden 
Direct cremation  $1,500     
Death certificate  $69     
Cremation permit and certificate  $220      
Garden plot (rose bed) $3,040    
Tree  $5,365  
Wall   $2,995   
Rock   $9,145   
Wake    $1,000-$5,000    
Annual maintenance      $300  

Mornington Green Cost Breakdown (including cremation)  

  Upfront Costs  Extras  Ongoing  
Legacy Tree package (depending on size of tree, location, etc) $7,000 – $11,000     
Death certificate  $69     
Cremation $1,500   
Cremation permit and certificate  $220      
Additional Crystal keepsake   $100   
Additional per head charge after initial 15 included guests  $35  

Data collected from Industry reports available online in Australia.  

Whatever type of funeral you are considering for a loved one, make sure you ask for a detailed breakdown of costs from the funeral service provider. 

Are you looking for an afterlife service for your loved one?  

Mornington Green creates new life from loss by planting Living Legacy Trees into ash-infused soil, allowing your loved one to live on as a tree. The process is respectful, environmentally friendly, and highly personalised, helping families and friends honour those who have passed by providing a safe place to come, connect and continue paying their respect indefinitely.  

Have you been considering funeral planning? Here’s a comparison on funeral bonds vs funeral insurance vs Mornington Green.

If you have questions about our afterlife services or simply want to understand more about how the process works, arrange a chat with one of our team today.   

Death is a topic that often makes us uncomfortable, yet it is an inevitable part of life. Whether you are pre-planning for your own passing or dealing with the loss of a loved one, the financial aspects of funerals can be overwhelming. It is important to ensure that you or your loved one receives a respectful and appropriate farewell without the burden of excessive costs.

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