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Scattering Ashes

As cremation becomes more popular, families are finding that they wish to scatter a loved one’s ashes at sea.  The release of the ashes can be a very spiritual and uplifting experience.  Many families are faced with the question of how to scatter ashes.

A common method of scattering ashes is by boat.  Our boats are often hired for a few hours for this purpose. Family and friends set out on a voyage to the desired spot in the Pumicestone Passage, which lies between Bribie Island and the mainland.  The cremated remains are scattered over or placed on the surface and allowed to descend into the water.  The boat needs to be placed with its stern into the prevailing wind and anchored or allowed to drift with the tidal current.

A very peaceful and stress-free ashes-scattering ceremony can be arranged by using one of the increasingly popular water-dissolvable urns. These urns are designed to be set on the surface of the water, staying afloat for a short time before slowly disappearing under the surface. Once fully submerged, the urn dissolves, releasing the ashes.

Traditional Funerals, of Burpengary, are able to offer advice for using water-dissolvable urns or for other methods of ashes disposal. Their contact details are: 1800 672 331 or 38886633

Another way to obtain a good-quality, Australian-made water-dissolvable urn is to contact Caskets Direct. This is a family owned and operated carbon-neutral business and is able to offer families caring assistance and prompt service. You can look up their website:

No matter which method you choose for how to scatter the ashes of your loved one, it is important to know the laws.  There are federal, state and local laws that govern various parts of how to scatter ashes. All of the laws applicable in Queensland allow the Pumicestone Passage to be used for the purpose of scattering ashes. (See the attached legal information)

Scattering ashes can bring closure to a family in a beautiful way. Please contact us if you have any questions on how to scatter ashes and what the best method for you might be.


3.118 The ashes remaining after the cremation of a deceased person’s body are sometimes interred or buried at the crematorium or a cemetery. People may also wish to bury or scatter the ashes in a place of particular personal significance.

The common law

3.119 As explained below, the scattering of ashes does not generally require any governmental approvals or permits. However, this does not mean that a person may bury or scatter ashes in a way that would constitute a trespass to property163 or create a nuisance164 at common law. For example, although a deceased person may have had a wish to have his or her ashes scattered at a particular venue, such as Lang Park, the scattering of ashes at that venue without the consent of the relevant landowner would be a trespass to property.

Commonwealth government regulation

3.120 If it is sought to bury or scatter ashes on land over which a Commonwealth reserve area has been declared, or to scatter ashes in a Commonwealth marine area over which a Commonwealth reserve area has been declared,165 the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 (Cth) will apply. As noted earlier, regulation 12.32 provides that human remains may be buried in a Commonwealth reserve only in a burial area determined by the Director and in accordance with a permit issued by the Director.166 Because ‘burial’ is defined in the Regulations to include ‘scattering or other disposal of ashes that are or include human remains’,167 a permit is required to bury or scatter ashes in a Commonwealth reserve. However, the Act does not require a permit in order to scatter ashes at sea.169

State government regulation

3.122 Earlier in this chapter, the Commission referred to the policy of the Department of Environment and Resource Management in relation to requests for burial in an area managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (‘QPWS’).170 That policy also deals with the scattering of ashes. It states that:171 QPWS permission is not required to scatter cremation ashes in a small, private ceremony in a protected area or other State land or waters under the management of QPWS.

3.123 The Commission is not aware of any state legislation that specifically regulates the disposal of ashes or of any other state government policies that deal with the disposal of ashes.

Local government regulation

The majority of local laws that deal with the disposal of human remains provide expressly that a permit is not required for the scattering of cremated remains outside a cemetery.

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