READY: Rick Nice with the kiln that will be in use at the new Ipswich crematorium, which is based in the grounds of the Warrill Park Lawn Cemetery.
READY: Rick Nice with the kiln that will be in use at the new Ipswich crematorium, which is based in the grounds of the Warrill Park Lawn Cemetery. Rob Williams

Crematorium's planning for growth ... and death

PLANNING for Ipswich's future not only includes infrastructure - but also how to best manage the city's cemeteries.

A growing population and a tendency for residents to farewell their loved ones in Brisbane crematoriums has led to the opening of a crematorium at the Warrill Park Lawn Cemetery.

Holding its first service yesterday, the crematorium is the first of a three-stage upgrade which includes the construction of a 400-seat chapel and tea room.

The cemetery is leased from Ipswich City Council by Ipswich Cemeteries; part of the Canberra-based Norwood Park Crematorium.

The company operates council's five cemeteries in Tallegalla, Stone Quarry, Haigslea and the Ipswich General Cemetery which is now closed.

The crematorium opened last week and administrative officer Alayne Duncan said although cremations only accounted for 25% of Queensland funerals, they were growing in popularity.

Ms Duncan said if the cemetery continued with only burials, it would not reach its capacity for 100 years.

Including cremations as a burial option extends its capacity by almost three-fold.

"They know the trend is going to change and they have the facilities to handle that," she said.

Cr Andrew Antoniolli said statistically, Ipswich was behind the national average on cremations.

But he expects this figure to change with the new facility and a growing population in coming years.

"The cemetery is an asset and if people are going elsewhere for their burials and cremations we are spending a lot of money on an asset that is not being utilised," he said.

Sexton Rick Nice said completing a cremation takes upwards of four hours and the kiln reaches temperatures of 750 degrees. The oven was transported from Gosford over five days and took three days to assemble on site.

Mr Nice operates the crematorium and said his odd job title gets some odd reactions.

"I'm employed as a sexton - a grave digger - and it's part of the job," he said.

"I get varied reactions actually. I like to put people off the scent a bit and call myself a sexton. It can go one of two ways. People will be interested or the conversation will end."



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