How does cremation work? The cremation process in Australia explained.

How does cremation work? The cremation process in Australia explained.

Cremation, chosen by a growing number of Australians, offers a way to honour a loved one's memory that aligns with a range of personal preferences, from environmental considerations to unique final wishes. Understanding the cremation process can offer comfort and clarity as you consider this option for yourself or a family member. Let's delve into the details of cremation and answer the common questions about the cremation process.

What is cremation?

Cremation is the process of reducing a deceased person's body to ashes using high heat in a controlled environment. This method has become a preferred choice for many, owing to various personal, spiritual, and financial reasons. It's a dignified way to handle the remains and can be more cost-effective than traditional burial.

Benefits of a cremation

Financial Benefits

Typically, it's less expensive than burial because it eliminates the need for a burial plot and often requires fewer funeral goods and services.


Cremation allows for more time to plan memorial services and for family to gather from afar.


It's viewed by some as a more sustainable option, taking up less land space.


Ashes can be kept, scattered, or used in various personalised memorials.

cremation process australia

The cremation process

1. Identification of the body

Before any memorial or funeral service can begin, the first step is providing a death certificate. Other paperwork required for cremation is a statutory declaration plus medical certificates or a coroner’s cremation permit.

2. Preparation of the body for cremation

First, any items that may affect the cremation process — such as jewellery or medical devices like pacemakers — are removed, usually by the funeral director. The deceased is placed in a coffin; once this coffin is accepted by the crematorium, it cannot be opened.

The coffin is then placed on an insertion trolley. For identification, a metal nameplate is placed beside the coffin and stays with the remains until the process is completed.

3. The role of a cremator

There are slight variations between crematoria, but generally speaking there are two chambers and a cooling tray. The first chamber is where the cremation itself takes place. Similar to a kiln or furnace, this chamber is made of heat-resistant bricks on the walls and ceiling, and fuelled by natural gas.

It’s important to note that at no point are the deceased’s remains actually exposed to the fire; rather, they remain in a coffin the entire time. The cremation occurs due to heat from the bricks rather than exposure to direct flames.

4. During the cremation

The coffin is then placed on an insertion trolley. For identification, a metal nameplate is placed beside the coffin and stays with the remains until the process is completed. The coffin is placed inside the cremator, and the intense heat breaks down the body. The entire process from beginning to end typically takes up to four hours.

5. After the cremation

After cremation, metals and other remnants are removed. The remaining bone fragments are then processed into a fine, uniform consistency, often referred to as ashes. At this point, the crematorium awaits the instructions of the deceased’s family. Typically, they are given to the family in an urn.

How do cremations work

Common questions about cremation

What can you do with ashes after cremation?

After the cremation process, families often wonder what they can do with their loved one's ashes to honour their memory. The possibilities are as varied and personal.

Some choose to keep the ashes in a beautifully crafted urn that can be displayed at home or interred in a columbarium. Others may decide to scatter the ashes in a place that was significant to the deceased, such as a favourite park, garden, or even at sea, which can be a poignant way to return them to nature. Do remember that you need to get permission from property owners if it’s on private land, or from local councils for parks and beaches.

For those seeking a more permanent memorial, ashes can be incorporated into unique objects like blown glass art or transformed into jewellery.

Can ashes be taken overseas?

If you’d like to scatter your loved one’s remains in a cherished place overseas, the first step is to contact that country’s consulate to check out what the legal requirements are. Further steps are outlined in our article on scattering remains abroad.

Can you attend a cremation?

You may be able to attend and view the committal of the coffin or casket into the cremator, depending on the crematorium’s arrangements.

Are multiple bodies cremated together?

Typically, only one body can be cremated at a time, as health regulations state that coffins must be cremated separately.

The only exceptions may be if there are two deceases who are closely related, such as a mother and baby, or twin children. However, these cases require approval from authorities.

How long does cremation take?

Cremation involves reducing the body to ashes in under two hours, unlike the slow decay over many years that takes place in traditional burial.

The entire process from beginning to end typically takes up to four hours. The length of the cremation itself depends on a range of factors but the average time for an adult is about 90 minutes at a temperature of 750 to 900 degrees Celsius.

How much does a cremation cost in NSW?

View our cremation pricing on our funeral costs document. We recommend using our instant quote tool to estimate the cost of the perfect funeral service for your loved one.

Which religions can be cremated?

Most religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and now increasingly Christianity, accept cremation. However, some, like Islam and Orthodox Judaism, traditionally do not. Always consult with religious leaders or advisors to respect faith-based practices.

When does the cremation take place?

Cremation can take place either before or after a funeral or memorial service. The timing depends on personal choice. You may opt for a traditional funeral with the body present before cremation, or a memorial with an urn containing the ashes afterward.

Are the cremation urns provided?

This depends on the funeral home, but typically a standard urn will be included as part of your arrangements. You may be able to choose a more decorative urn from the funeral home, or provide your own, if you wish.

how does cremation work

Prepaid cremations

Opting for a pre-paid cremation is a thoughtful and practical way to manage funeral arrangements well in advance. This process involves selecting a cremation package from a funeral provider and paying for it at today's prices, safeguarding against future cost increases. Visit our guide to about prepaid funeral plans.

Planning a cremation

Planning a cremation involves a series of thoughtful decisions that reflect the wishes of the deceased and the needs of the family. It starts with choosing a trusted funeral provider who can guide you through the legal requirements and paperwork. Download our cremation planning checklist below for your step-by-step guide.


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Lady Anne Funerals is here to support and assist your family through what can be a difficult time, with a ladies touch. 

We are available to discuss a range of services to support your family, including: 

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My family and friends were very happy with every aspect of the preparation and celebration of the end of my wife. When I knew the end was near I spoke to Yvonne who explained to me what would happen and this was done with delicacy and tact. When the end came Yvonne came to our house and explained every aspect of what would happen. We explained what we wanted for Margaret's farewell and nothing was too much trouble for Yvonne to explain or discuss. On the day of the funeral everything went like clockwork and all my relatives and friends told me how impressed they were. So thank you to Yvonne for being celebrant and MC at the farewell and thank you to all the Lady Anne team. If I were asked to score the service my family received  it would be ten out of ten.
Dick Hodge
I would like to thank you and the whole team at Lady Anne Funerals for making mums funeral the perfect goodbye. The funeral was everything and so much more than mum wanted. Nothing seemed to be too hard and that made my time far simpler than i had expected. 
The whole day was perfect and we noticed with love all the special touches from the bookmarks to the candle to the display screen with Iris's. Thank you so much. Your team felt like part of the family rather than people doing a job.
That i believe is what sets Lady Anne apart.
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I want to send a heartfelt 'thank you’ to you both, and your team, for your compassion and your assistance in taking meticulous care of Dad and arranging such a beautiful end of life service for him. Within a matter of only a few days, which included a weekend, you were able to organise the perfect service tailored to our requests.

Not only did you organise the attendance of the RSL representative, you also went to considerable trouble to download the music and videos we had chosen, in a format that could be utilised in the service.We greatly appreciated your guidance too with organising the order of service and arranging a printed copy of the tributes for one of our friends who was deaf.

Thank you Yvonne for doing a magnificent job as the celebrant. We greatly appreciated you reading our tributes to Maurie on the family’s behalf. Thank you too for reading the poem, 'The Dash’ so beautifully.

It was comforting for our family and friends to come together in a more intimate setting, which your chapel provides. The light refreshments, which followed the service, were ideal, allowing the family to stay on and share their memories.

Dad quite often had high expectations of the way things should be done, bless him, so I was particularly mindful of doing him proud with this last expression of our love for him and a tribute to his long and meaningful life. We achieved this, with your help, and I know he would have been deeply touched and honoured. Thank you for you for all you did.


"I just wanted to say a big thank you to you and your amazing team. I couldn’t have asked for things to go any better. Everything was perfect. And your ladies were beautiful. Your Yvonne is amazing. She is patient, compassionate, caring and delivers perfection in all the elements of the proceedings. She has been an absolute Gem.

Once again thank you so very much. I would highly recommend anyone to use your company if they want a perfect funeral service. 5 star service. 5 star outcome.

There were multiple compliments on the service, on your ladies and on the care from the attendees. I’m more than happy for you to post this on any media platform as a compliment and tribute to your company.

Thank you."

Anne Leslie
“I just wanted to send you our sincerest thanks for everything you and your incredible team did for us in making the most perfect day, celebration and farewell of our beautiful Harper.

I have given a lot of thought to your business and the industry and I think it is perhaps the most important business for families to get it right when it comes to planning a funeral which may be sudden or may be a long time in the making. Either way, when one is faced with the unfortunate situation of needing to arrange a funeral, only then do you realise the importance of getting it right.

We experienced first hand the polar opposites the industry offers. It is not just about the cars, the booklets, the music and all the things that make up the day - its about the service, the care and most importantly it’s about the people.

From our very first conversation we could sense your genuine care to our situation and your attention to detail was obvious - this was very different to the previous conversations we had with others we had been referred to. Those other companies wanted to commence meetings with the paperwork side of things upfront which is a very confronting thing to do just days after losing your loved one - and when one of the others that I am referencing couldn’t even refernece our daughters name as our meeting started - we were horrified of how poor the service of care could be.

This is where you and your team shine. After feeling very lost in our search to secure the perfect funeral director to create the perfect day, my wife all of a sudden recalled you standing out the front of your office each morning watering the surrounding gardens to ensure a beautiful front of house. Well, I can assure you, it is not just the front of house that is beautiful - its the entire package that is beautiful.

Your manner, your direction and your expertise is evident from the get go. Nothing is too hard for you or your amazing team. The personal care made us feel like we were the only funeral you were working with at the time, and that’s exactly how it should be.

The finer detail, such as driving past our house so our daughter could go past our house one last time, then leaving the most beautiful flowers on our doorstep, to bumping into us at the Church because you were just doing your own research to make sure the day was seamless. This combined with your recommendations from every aspect as everything was very foreign to us, you were able to guide us to achieve the most beautiful farewell.

The day itself was simply perfect. Not once did we have a concern. The car was shining, your team dressed beautifully, cold water provided for us, directions for our guests, directions for us. Everyone commented on how amazing the day was and how incredibly your team were. Seamless is the only word I can use. It doesn’t stop here.

Your personal care and guidance then allowed us a more intimate farewell the following day (we are so grateful for for this recommendation and possibly would have missed this special day if you had suggested it was the best idea). Again, you and your team made us feel like you had nowhere else to be, and no one else to help. Just us. The setting was beautiful, the celebrant (that you arrange and recommend) is a delightful, your team make this day even more special than the last.

This is something we never want to go through again but there will be so many others, that like us, have no idea where to start to look for the right funeral director for their own special day. All I can say is that I hope that they appoint Lady Anne Funerals. We learnt a lot quickly and it is again a business many do not ever consider needing but without question one of the most important businesses to select the right person and the right team.

I welcome any of your future potential clients to contact me if they wish to discuss our experience with the amazing Lady Anne team. We thank you for giving our beautiful baby the most incredible farewell that was exactly how we imagined it, you just made it happen.”

Lee Dowdall

“We wish to thank you for having helped us put together a beautiful farewell for our mother, one which she would have been delighted with.

It was a difficult day and it would have been worse without your synchronised, seamless and consistent presence as well as attention to detail.

We value your candour as the people you are and the very sensitive manner in which you conducted the service.

Thanking you from the bottom of our hearts,

The Pastore Family
Karen has supported my Mum and me through the most difficult week of our lives as we not only planned a funeral, but interred my Dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful to Karen for her ongoing support, guidance, kindness, empathy and friendship over the last week. Karen has now become part of our extended circle of close family friends.
Daughter of the late Sveta Dordevich
Lady Anne Funerals has the compassion, understanding and empathy that many of the larger funeral homes do not possess. My aunts funeral was dignified and classy everything she deserved. I would highly recommend Lady Anne (and have) as they go above and beyond.
Joanne Marks
I am overwhelmed with the feedback on how beautiful it all was from all who attended. You and the other ladies were wonderful, looked so elegant, and made the day so very special for all who loved Paul.
Barbara Sommerville Enright
Karen and her staff treated us with the utmost respect we could not have been in better hands during this difficult time. My mum had organised her funeral with a prepaid funeral plan which she had purchased from Karen almost ten years ago this also made this upsetting time much easier to deal with and she got all the things that she wished for.
Malcolm Ellis
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank Lady Anne Funerals for a beautiful service yesterday for my aunt Dot. All who attended commented on how lovely the service was & the professionalism of all the staff. Thanks again very much for helping making a sad day one of celebration of Dot’s life.
Judith Neville

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