Victorian Genealogy

Finding People and Places in Victoria, Australia.

 


Cemetery and Crematoria Records

 

For early burial records (1803-1853) see Death Records.

For burial or funeral records held by religious institutions other than early burial records (1803-1853) see Church, Synagogue and other Religious Records.

For funeral notices see Newspapers, Magazines and Journals.

 

Also see Burial and Cremation Records by Region.

Also see Burial and Cremation Records (A-Z).

Also see Headstone and Memorial Transcriptions and Photographs.

Also see Monuments and War Memorials.

Also see Funeral Director and Undertaker Records.

 

OVERVIEW

Cemeteries and crematoria have to be run by cemetery trusts in Victoria. There are an estimated 625 operational cemeteries in Victoria. Of these, 575 were public cemeteries governed by 496 cemetery trusts. Most of the rest are private cemeteries associated with religious groups. Seventy five cemetery trusts had their local government appointed as trustees in 1999. There were three pioneer memorial parks in 1999. There are ten crematoria operating in Victoria. There are six war cemeteries.

The location of cemeteries may be included on Parish and Township Plans, Put Away Plans or in the Historic Plans Collection. See under Plans.

 

PRIVATE CEMETERIES

Some cemeteries are associated with religious groups. Other cemeteries were located on pastoral stations. Both of these types of cemeteries are private cemeteries. Some private cemeteries later became public cemeteries. There were 50 private cemeteries operating in 1999. If they were still in operation in 1958, their correspondence records may be found on the Public Record Office Victoria website when they bought under the administration of the Department of Health. Approval from the Department of Health was required for each burial taking place in a private cemetery from 1958.

 

PUBLIC CEMETERIES

In 1854 a law was enacted that no further burials were to take place within town limits and cemeteries were to be located one mile outside townships (An Act for the Establishment and Management of Cemeteries in the Colony of Victoria: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb//au/legis/vic/hist_act/aafteamocitcov681/). Towns that had cemeteries located within their limits closed them and sometimes all the bodies were exhumed and relocated to the new cemetery located outside the town.

Sections of a public cemetery were allocated to the various faiths practising in the locality; the trustees running the cemetery were representatives of each of those faiths.

The management of some cemeteries has been taken over by local councils or a number of cemetery trusts have merged to form an amalgamated cemetery trust that administers a number of cemeteries; this is particularly prevalent with cemeteries in larger cities.

 

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES - PUBLIC CEMETERY GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATOR

The Department of Health and Human Services website has a geographical locator for all operational public cemeteries within a given range of a particular location. Contact details for each public cemetery trust are included:

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/cemeteries-and-crematoria/cemetery-search

 

CEMETERIES AND CREMATORIA ASSOCIATION OF VICTORIA - LIST OF MEMBER CEMETERY TRUSTS

The Cemeteries and Crematoria Association of Victoria has a list of member cemetery trusts.

http://www.ccav.org.au/

 

NON - OPERATIONAL CEMETERIES OR CROWN LAND CEMETERIES

Where a cemetery is longer operational or is located on Crown land, the records may be found on the Public Record Office Victoria website. Some non-operational cemeteries have become pioneer memorial parks; this is a closed cemetery where the monuments, tombstones and other erections have been removed and the area is grassed over to become parkland. There are three pioneer memorial parks: Oakleigh, Will Will Rook and Old Seymour Cemeteries.

 

INDIGENEOUS VICTORIAN CEMETERIES

Indigenous Victorian Cemetery Records are located at Public Record Office Victoria.

 

PUBLIC RECORDS OFFICE VICTORIA - ABORIGINAL MISSION STATIONS AND RESERVES 1869-1970s

This is a finding aid for Aboriginal Mission Stations and Reserves. The original records are not online.

Most of the records in the collection relate to the Aboriginal missions and reserves at Coranderrk, Framlingham, Lake Condah, Ebenezer (Lake Hindmarsh), Lake Tyers and Ramahyuck. Cemetery records are included.

https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/aboriginal-victorians-1830s-1970s/aboriginal-mission-stations

 

WAR CEMETERIES

The six war cemeteries in Victoria are Bairnsdale War Cemetery, Benalla War Cemetery, Sale War Cemetery, Shepparton War Cemetery and Springvale War Cemetery, Melbourne as well as the Victorian Cremation Memorial, Melbourne.

The naval cemetery in Victoria is HMAS Cerberus Cemetery.

 

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS - COMMEMORATIONS, MEMORIALS AND WAR GRAVES

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs website has a section relating to Commemorations, Memorials and War Graves. This includes the Office of Australian War Graves.

https://www.dva.gov.au/commemorations-memorials-and-war-graves

 

ENEMY WAR CEMETERIES

Tatura German Military Cemetery holds the graves of German armed forces personnel and civilian internees as well as one Turkish civilian.

Murchison Cemetery which has a mausoleum that holds the remains of Italian armed forces personnel and civilian internees.

 

CEMETERY AND CREMATORIA RECORDS

In the early days of Victoria including during the gold rushes, isolated country areas which were not serviced by clergymen and people may have been buried in lone graves where they died. There may be no record of their death.

For additional burial records from 1836 to 1853 see Death Records.

If you are looking for the place of burial or cremation in Victoria after 1853, this is usually included on Victorian death certificates. See Death Registration Records.

For burial or cremation records, contact the cemetery trust in question. Burial or cremation records may also be held by the local council, Public Record Office Victoria, National Library of Australia, State Library of Victoria, local libraries, the Genealogical Society of Victoria, Family History Connections (previously the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies) and local genealogical societies.


PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE OF VICTORIA - BURIAL REGISTERS

The Old Melbourne Cemetery burial register from 1866 to 1917 has been digitised and is online at the Public Record Office Victoria; this cemetery is no longer extant.

https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/cemeteries/alphabetical-record-burials-old-melbourne-cemetery-1866

The Public Record Office of Victoria has burial registers for the following cemeteries which are not online:

This is a finding aid for burial records.

https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/cemeteries/burial-records

 

FAMILYSEARCH - AUSTRALIA, DEATHS AND BURIALS, 1816-1980

An index to records held by the Genealogical Society of Utah is searchable on their FamilySearch website. This has deaths and burials from New South Wales and Victoria. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed.

https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1770857


FAMILY SEARCH - BURIAL RECORDS

FamilySearch has microfilmed cemetery registers. They are in the process of digitizing all their microfilm records. Some are yet to be digitized; some can be seen online; some can be seen at FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries (in Melbourne these are the Genealogical Society of Victoria and Family History Connections (previously the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies)) and some can be seen at Family History Centres (Mormon Libraries).

https://www.familysearch.org/en/


GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY OF VICTORIA - MILESTONES

This index contains nearly a million references from cemetery records mostly relating to Victoria. It includes burial registers or memorial inscriptions from their collection. It also includes Ballarat Crematorium Register from 1956 to 1987. The Society has been transcribing cemetery records since the 1950s and although there are now online websites for cemeteries, some of those early headstone have disappeared or become illegible or even destroyed by vandals.

https://www.gsv.org.au/article/our-collection


ANCESTRY - AUSTRALIA CEMETERY INDEX 1808-2007

Victorian cemeteries are sourced from Family History Connections (previously Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies (AIGS)) and East Gippsland Family History Group Inc. They include Bairnsdale Cemetery and numerous cemeteries in rural Victoria. For a list of the cemeteries where the AIGS has transcribed the headstones see Headstone and Memorial Transcriptions and Photographs.

https://search.ancestry.com.au/search/db.aspx?dbid=1266


FINDMYPAST - AUSTRALIA DEATHS AND BURIALS 1816-1980

These are sourced from FamilySearch.

https://search.findmypast.com.au/search-world-Records/australia-deaths-and-burials-1816-1980


FINDMYPAST - VICTORIA BURIALS AND MEMORIALS

This index has burial records and headstone transcriptions for 170 Victorian cemeteries sourced from the Genealogical Society of Victoria. In addition to these, it has digitised images of the burial register of the Old Melbourne Cemetery.

https://search.findmypast.com.au/search-world-Records/victoria-burials-and-memorials

 

BEVERLEY DAVIS BURIAL DATA COLLECTION - JEWISH BURIALS

The Beverley Davis Burial Data Collection holds the details from the headstones of over 72,000 Jewish graves in Australia and New Zealand, plus Australian War graves overseas. This database is fully searchable.

https://www.ajhs.com.au/burials/

 

WAR CEMETERY RECORDS

 

VIRTUAL WAR MEMORIAL AUSTRALIA

Virtual War Memorial Australia is an commemorative collection, purpose built to honour the personal experiences of all those who have served the nation in times of conflict,  from the Boer War through to Afghanistan. It pays special honour to those who lost their lives as a result of their service and equally honours those who returned, forever changed.

It includes people, memorials, conflicts, units, places, and cemeteries.

https://vwma.org.au/

 

COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website has lists of all burials in war cemeteries as well as other military burials in “civilian” cemeteries. The website is also searchable by cemetery. The six war cemeteries in Victoria are Bairnsdale War Cemetery, Benalla War Cemetery, Sale War Cemetery, Shepparton War Cemetery and Springvale War Cemetery, Melbourne as well as the Victorian Cremation Memorial, Melbourne.

https://www.cwgc.org/

 

ANCESTRY - UNITED KINGDOM, COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES, 1914-1921 and 1939-1947

https://search.ancestry.com.au/search/db.aspx?dbid=2706

 

FINDMYPAST - COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION DEBT OF HONOUR

https://search.findmypast.com.au/search-world-Records/commonwealth-war-graves-commission-debt-of-honour

 

THE WAR GRAVES PHOTOGRAPHIC PROJECT

The original aim of the War Graves Photographic Project was to photograph every British war grave, individual memorial, Ministry of Defence grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from World War 1 to the present day. They have now extended their remit to cover all nationalities and military conflicts and make these available within a searchable database.

https://www.twgpp.org/

 

HERALDRY AND GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY OF CANBERRA - GRAVES AND MEMORIALS OF AUSTRALIANS IN THE BOER WAR

The aim of this website is to document all graves and memorials of Australians who served in the Boer War 1899-1900; it provides information on people involved in the Anglo-Boer war and how to research them, and how their service was commemorated in Australia and South Africa.

https://familyhistoryact.org.au/boer_war/

 

ANCESTRY - AUSTRALIA, IMPERIAL FORCE BURIALS AT GALLIPOLI, 1915

The Spirits of Gallipoli Project. North Ryde, New South Wales, Australia. This collection includes records of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) who died at Gallipoli in WWI. You’ll find a digital database of service records, plus digital images of portraits, headstones, and memorials. They may be browsed and they are searchable.

https://search.ancestry.com.au/search/db.aspx?dbid=60862

 

ENEMY WAR CEMETERY RECORDS

 

COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION - TATURA GERMAN MILITARY CEMETERY

Tatura German Military Cemetery holds the graves of German armed forces personnel and civilian internees as well as one Turkish civilian.

https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/14043/tatura-german-military-cemetery/

 

CEMETERY ADMINISTRATION RECORDS

Sections of a public cemetery were allocated to the various faiths practising in the locality; the trustees running the cemetery were representatives of each of those faiths. Information relating to public cemetery trusts as well as the appointment of trustees may be found in government gazettes. See Government Gazettes.

 

PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE VICTORIA - CEMETERY ADMINISTRATION RECORDS

This is a finding aid for cemetery administration records.

https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/cemeteries/cemetery-administration-records


FAMILY SEARCH - CEMETERY ADMINISTRATION RECORDS

FamilySearch has microfilmed cemetery records; these include cemetery administration records as well as burial records. They are in the process of digitizing all their microfilm records. Some are yet to be digitized; some can be seen online; some can be seen at FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries (in Melbourne these are the Genealogical Society of Victoria and Family History Connections (previously the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies)) and some can be seen at Family History Centres (Mormon Libraries).

https://www.familysearch.org/en/

 

CEMETERY INSCRIPTION MEANINGS

F.L.T.: with each letter in a link of a chain: Friendship, Love and Truth (see I.O.O.F.)

I.O.O.F.: International Order of Odd Fellows (see F.L.T.).

V.D.M.: verbi Dei minister (Minister of the Word of God).

Relict carved on a woman's headstone: she died a widow.

Consort: she outlived her husband.

 

Some examples of engraved symbols include:

Anchors and Ships: Hope or Seafaring profession

Arches: Victory in Death

Arrows: Mortality

Broken column: Loss of head of family

Broken ring: Family circle severed

Bugles: Military (see Trumpeters)

Butterfly: Short-lived; early death

Candle being snuffed: Time, mortality

Cherub: Angelic

Compass and Square: Masonic emblems

Corn: Ripe old age

Cross: Symbol of Christian hope

Crossed Swords: Officer in the military

Darts: Mortality

Doves: The soul, purity, innocence, gentleness

Father Time: Mortality, The Grim Reaper

Flowers: Brevity of early existence, sorrow

Flowers: Condolence, grief, sorrow

Flying Birds: Flight of the soul

Fruits: Eternal plenty

Garlands: Victory in death

Hand of God Chopping: Sudden death

Hands of God Chopping: Sudden Death

Handshakes: Farewell to earthly existence

Harp: Praise to the Maker

Hearts: Blissfulness or love of Christ

Hourglass with wings: Time flying; short life

Hourglass: Swiftness of time

Ivy: Friendship and immortality

Lamb: Innocence

Laurel: Fame or victory

Lily or lily of valley: Emblem of innocence and purity

Morning glory: Beginning of life

Oak leaves and acorn: Maturity, ripe old age

Open book or Bible: Deceased teacher, minister, etc.

Palm Branch: Signifies victory and rejoicing

Picks and shovels: Mortality

Poppy: Sleep

Portals: Passageway to eternal journey

Rose in full bloom: Prime of life

Rosebud: Morning of life or renewal of life

Roses: Brevity of mortal life

Sheaf of wheat: Ripe for harvest, divine harvest time

Shells: Pilgrimage of life

Suns: The Resurrection

Thistles: Remembrance

Tombs: Mortality

Torch Inverted: Life extinct

Tree stump with ivy: Head of family; immortality

Trees: Life

Trumpeters: Heralds of the resurrection

Urn with flame: Undying friendship

Urn with wreath or crepe: mourning

Willows: Emblem of sorrow

Winged effigies: Flight of the soul

A cenotaph is not a grave marker at all. It is a monument erected in memory of someone who died elsewhere, perhaps at sea.

 

 

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