Yes, it is totally cool that you want to be buried in your own garden once your soul departs this mortal realm. I also love our home, almost as much as our bank loves us paying them back the money we borrowed to buy it (plus shitloads of interest), and I am as keen as you are to be buried on our property when I finally shuffle on.
But is it legal? Well…
The problem you and I have is that the law takes a very strict view on what can be done to someone’s body once they have died. Stupid law.
These laws are meant to ensure that the dead are treated respectfully and in a way that protects public health and not like the way Bernie was treated in that classic 1989 movie Weekend at Bernie’s. Annoyingly, our laws tell us that we cannot leave dead bodies hanging from the Sydney Harbour Bridge or from the stadium lights of the MCG as a warning to those that might threaten our sovereign shores. Instead, the bodies of the dead must be treated and prepared for burial or cremation in very specific ways.
Before we go on, a short warning.
My brother is single and looking for action.
Sorry, wrong warning. It is my default warning whenever I find out that my bro is single.
The warning I meant to give is that shit is about to get grim in the next few paragraphs, so try not to think about your loved ones while we go through what you can legally do with their dead body.
First, a recently deceased person – let’s just call this person ‘Corpsey’ to personalise things a little – must be immediately taken to an approved funeral home and stored there until the time of burial or cremation. This creates an immediate problem for Corpsey, if he or she wanted to be buried at home. Corpsey’s friends and relatives are going to need to accept that Corpsey will be stored ‘offsite’ for a while, while the legally required preserving treatments are done. Corpsey needs to look its best after all.
Quick side note: I want to bring up a particularly fun part in the New South Wales law on the treatment of the dead. New South Wales law says, and I am quoting here: ‘a person must not use the refrigerated body storage facilities in a body preparation room or holding room except to store bodies.’ This must mean that at some point someone working in a mortuary in New South Wales put their beer in a body fridge to cool it down, got caught, and caused a change to the law in New South Wales to stop it ever happening again. Well done, my home state.
Even after it has been appropriately preserved, poor Corpsey is going to struggle to get back home so that its friends and family can fulfil Corpsey’s wish of a garden burial. For you see, under our laws, Corpsey can only be buried in a locked coffin that is laid to rest at least 90 centimetres under the surface level of the ground. That’s not very far down, in my view, but who am I to argue with the law on these issues. And frustratingly the law requires that Corpsey be buried in a legally designated graveyard or placed in a legally approved vault. Unless Corpsey had a very unusual life, I expect its home is not such a designated graveyard or approved vault.
All is not lost, however, for where the law creates rules, it also creates exceptions to those rules. Corpsey would be pleased to know, if it were still alive, that it could be buried on private land, such as Corpsey’s back yard. The bad news is that this can only happen if the total area of land in which Corpsey is to be buried is five hectares or more in size, and the location has been approved for that purpose by a local government authority.
So unless Corpsey happened to own a decent-sized farm, and its friends and relatives have a good working relationship with their local council, it is once again impossible to bury Corpsey on its own land. Legally, at least.