It's out with the mantle urn and in with scattering far and wide. When it’s time to kick the bucket, Australians have told us they're more keen on non-traditional scattering ashes ideas.

It seems the tradition of keeping ashes in an urn is outdated, with only *13% of Aussies preferring to keep ashes at home. Most would prefer some form of scattering with the remains, but just under half (42%) don’t want a formal ceremony - they just want to go their own way.

We asked Australians what they had in mind and compiled this list of scattering ashes ideas after a cremation, to provide families some inspiration.

So if you are preparing your own funeral instructions to leave your family, or if you are planning a funeral for a loved one who has recently passed, we hope these scattering ashes ideas will help you plan a farewell that best celebrates how the unique life was lived.

What to do with cremated ashes

Firstly, it may be helpful to understand that there are a few options about what can be done with cremated ashes once they have been returned to the deceased person’s family. This will depend on whether you would rather keep the ashes, or inter them – either by scattering or burial. Yes, ashes can also be buried.

Some families like to keep the deceased’s ashes in a decorative urn, displayed at a prominent place at home. Others prefer to bury the ashes in a small cemetery plot or niche wall, or they can be scattered someplace of significance.

Ashes can also be split up, allowing families to keep some and scatter or bury the rest. You also have the option to hold on to a small amount of the ashes to make a keepsake from it - like jewellery or an ornament.

We asked Australians if they could have a say in what happened with their ashes after a cremation, how they would like to be scattered.

Here’s what we learned…After a cremation, Australians mostly prefer to have the ashes scattered someplace in nature – either at sea or to be returned to the earth. As one respondent eloquently put it: “I believe that everything and everyone should return to nature and ashes should be scattered so that they can return to the earth.”

The more adventurous have told us they would like to be scattered with the dolphins, among a rainforest or waterfall, or along the Great Barrier Reef.

Many told us they want to be scattered at a significant spot that sparked happy memories, like a favourite camping, hiking, fishing or holiday place.

Some say they want to be scattered at a place where their children and grandkids can come back to visit and remember them.

An unconventional scattering ashes idea is to scatter off a cruise ship.
An unconventional scattering ashes idea is to scatter off a cruise ship.

Unconventional scattering of ashes ideas

As Australians turn from tradition when it comes to planning a funeral, *30% say they would consider more unconventional scattering ashes ideas when it came time to farewell a loved one.

From their responses, we’ve picked our top 10 scattering of ashes ideas, as listed below.

10 scattering ideas you may not have thought of

  1. Driving along a favourite route and blowing off the back of an open-top car or motorcycle
  2. Scattered from a cruise ship, into the ocean
  3. Shot high in the sky, out of a plane
  4. Returned to my birth country to be scattered where I grew up
  5. Combined with the ashes of my partner (should he go before me) and all our dogs, so we can all go together
  6. Split so that half the ashes are scattered on high land and the rest at sea
  7. Split into 100 portions and have them scattered all over the world
  8. Some ashes placed in jewellery for loved ones to wear and remember me. The rest can be scattered in the soil and have a tree placed there.
  9. In the garden of my own property, where we enjoyed our time and to remain close to where our family dog is buried.
  10. Scattered at Mount Panorama at Bathurst, NSW

… and one person told us they wanted to be scattered in secret!“I want my ashes scattered in a place I have nominated to the executor of my will, to be done in private without ceremony and not to be disclosed to anyone so that no one visits the site ever.”

Others told us of other unconventional scattering ideas that paid tribute to their person’s life passions.

“My brother had some ashes shot out of a potato gun over a lake he sailed on,” said one respondent.

Another said: “When my husband died, he wanted to be scattered at the HMAS Cerberus Navy base because he was in the Navy. He was scattered on March 21, 2021.”

One unconventional scattering ashes idea is to releae them at a racing track
Another unconventional scattering ashes idea is to release them at a racing track.

Unconventional scattering ceremony ideas

Only 8% of Australians told us they would like to have their cremated ashes scattered as part of a traditional ceremony. For the rest of the nation, the good news is that the options for planning a scattering ceremony are as limitless as your imagination.

Here are some elements to think about when considering scattering of ashes ideas that are not so traditional:

  • hiring a comedian to MC the ceremony, instead of a funeral celebrant or spiritual leader
  • a Viking-style send-off, sailing the ashes off to sea in a blazing boat
  • shooting the ashes skyward with a fabulous fireworks display and gathering loved ones to watch the spectacle
  • releasing the ashes over a body of water by drone, so that everyone can watch the display
  • releasing the ashes from overhead, by hot air balloon

For more inspiration, read our article 13 unique memorial service ideas, here. And for more ideas about cremation ashes keepsakes, or where to store ashes, read our article on What to do with ashes after a cremation, here.

Final thoughts on scattering of ashes

Funeral trends are changing, with cremation having overtaken burial as the preferred choice for Australians. As families break from tradition while funeral planning, we’re seeing more people get creative with their ashes scattering ideas.

Funerals, memorials, wakes, celebrations of life – call them whatever you like, but they don’t have to follow a set formula. You can still arrange a loving ceremony or final send-off, just consider what elements you might add to make the send-off as unique as the person celebrated.

If you plan on scattering ashes on private land, you should get permission from the landowners or local council if it is on government-owned land. On the other hand, if you plan to scatter ashes at sea by boat, you must get permission from the master of the vessel or boat first. Boats can be chartered specifically to scatter ashes and this can create more of an intimate and personalised send-off.

A dignified unattended cremation allows you complete freedom to personalise the farewell in the best way that tributes your loved one.  If you'd like some help arranging a cremation, scattering ceremony or memorial, let us help you say the perfect goodbye. Our team of funeral arrangers would be happy to offer more scattering of ashes ideas or help plan your ceremony.

To arrange an immediate-need service, you can call us at 1800 071 176. For prepaid arrangements, please reach out to us at 1800 202 901. You can also get a quote at the Bare Cremation website.

If you're interested in planning a Bare Memorial, watch the video below to learn more.

‍*Bare Cremation’s Future of Funerals Report was conducted in July-August 2021, based on a sample of 1043 Australians.