A $50 million project to develop Victoria’s next prominent public cemetery officially commenced today.The 'new concept’ cemetery, located in Melbourne’s south eastern growth corridor, will be set in a andscaped community park almost three times the size of the Royal Botanic Gardens and include a lakeside chapel, waterways, cafe, sculptures and a children’s playground. The 101 hectare site is being developed by Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.

SMCT expects the memorial park to meet Melbourne’s population needs for at least the next 70 years.A groundbreaking ceremony involving the Victorian Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon. David Davis was held today at Bunurong Memorial Park in Dandenong South. Work on the Bunurong project will generate 125 full time jobs over an 18 month period.

More than 80,000 native trees and shrubs will be planted at Bunurong before first stage completion in 2016. Site landscaping and design will promote a distinctive Australian theme. The regenerated indigenous natural environment will provide a suitable habitat for local fauna.
Bunurong is named after the original custodians of the land. The project will see the transformation of an existing cemetery established in 1994. The project master plan allows for retention of the crematorium, mausoleum and Greek Orthodox Church. Existing interments will not be impacted by the development.


CEO of SMCT, Jonathan Tribe said: “Our vision for Bunurong is to transform a traditional cemetery into a ‘new age’ memorial park visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year. We want to demystify cemeteries and get people to regard them as great community assets –green, relaxing places where you can socialise with family and friends. That’s how people in the Victorian era regarded cemeteries.”

SMCT research found that in the 1860s around 5,000 people would visit the Melbourne General Cemetery on a summer Sunday. Visitors would picnic in the gardens and promenade along the wide pathways. “In the twentieth century, people developed a morbid attitude towards cemeteries. Bunurong Memorial Park is a community space that will help change that perception,” Mr Tribe said.


The new buildings will be carbon neutral in energy consumption and will offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with grid connected electricity and gas by 500 tonnes per year. Water conservation involving the capture and recycling of water will save at least 500,000 litre
s of water per year.


Bunurong will be developed in stages and evolve with the changing needs of an increasingly diverse community. First stage development will see the construction of multi-faith meditation rooms.


“Memorialisation, remembering loved ones who have passed is a tradition shared by the vast majority of Victorians. It’s a tradition we need to preserve and promote,” Mr Tribe said.
SMCT , formed in 2010 is a not for profit body that administers eight cemeteries for the State Government.


Artist’s impressions of the project and related information are available  by clicking this link

Info: Leigh Funston,
head of communications,
Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.
M 0414 8666 97