Lismore pioneers bushland cemetery

LISMORE'S move to be one of the first cities in Australia to have a bushland cemetery has influenced other cities around the country.

Most recently, Sydney opened its first natural burial ground in the city's west where the tenure for a site is limited to 30 years, with an option to renew, ‘creating a sustainable burial ground for generations to come', NSW Minister for Lands Tony Kelly said.

Natural burial grounds like the Lismore Bushland Cemetery provide an environmental and alternative way to bury the dead by using bushland surroundings and rock headstones.

The UK and America havealso adopted bushland cemeteries in the past.

Wollongbar resident John Gough was the first local to use the Lismore Bushland Cemetery three years ago when he buried his mother-in-law.

“Cemeteries get old and they get run down and that never appealed to me,” he said.

“Places like that get neglected and I would rather some-where with a lovely atmosphere where it is quiet and peaceful.”

Twenty-two people have been buried at the Lismore Bushland Cemetery at Lismore Memorial Gardens, Goonellabah.

The eco alternative is not substantially cheaper, Lismore Bushland Cemetery co-ordinator Kris Whitney said.

“A burial site at the Lismore Bushland Cemetery costs $3091, whereas a burial site at the other cemetery costs $3509,” he said.

“There is still a lot of maintenance. It is a small bush area in an urban area in Lismore and it needs to be maintained.

“I think people like the informality to this. They want to return to nature and it is a natural eco-system down there.”

Mr Whitney said he often saw wallabies and koalas in the bushland cemetery.

Despite the small price difference, Mr Gough says it wasn't the cost factor that appealed to him.

“It wasn't that so much,” he said. “It was that you could go down there and it is a different atmosphere.

“The thing is, you could be anywhere when you are down there, and it's heavenly.”

The bushland site also uses natural headstones in the form of rocks from council's quarry.

Cement rocks are also available, but Mr Whitney admits this leaves a carbon footprint.

“We are managing all the carbon offset by managing the bushland cemetery in a natural way,” he said.

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