Bringing back the tradition of cemetery picnics

29 April 2024
white picnic blanket with woven basket, a baguette, a soread with cheese and grapes overlooking a lake view

Did you know in the nineteenth century it was common to picnic at cemeteries? Before public parks as we know it today came into existence, a typical family outing in America consisted of packing a light lunch, parasols—if you were a proper Victorian lady—and gathering at the grave of a loved one to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Cemeteries made the perfect location for picnics as they consisted of rolling hills and gorgeous green fields that stretched into the horizon.

Now with public parks evolving into a key part of infrastructure, this cemetery tradition has faded into an old historical practice. However, scenic gardens continue to be a feature of locations a part of Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.

As Autumn arrives and brings with it fresh breeze and changing hues to the beautiful gardens at Springvale Botanical Cemetery and other locations, we invite our community to experience Mother’s Day amongst the calming nature. This year in honour of Mother’s Day we are offering complimentary picnic hampers for our community to enjoy with a loved one at Springvale Botanical Cemetery and Bunurong Memorial Park

There are plenty of hidden gems to explore across our sites. If you choose to picnic with us throughout the year, we ask you to be respectful of other visitors and gravesites. To get you started on ideas, we have asked our employees to share their expertise and insider tips on the best picnic spots at our locations

Top cemetery picnic spots in Victoria

1. Garden of No Distant Place

A phoro of trees. I nthe foreground is a lake and a fountain.

Bring a blanket and relax in the lush, leafy surrounds of the Garden of No Distant Place at Springvale. With gorgeous Autumn colours from our deciduous tree collections, flowering shrubs and rolling lawns, this is a wonderful spot to share a picnic hamper with family and friends.

2. The Rapids and Eucalypt

Do you want to feel like you are spending quality time out in the Australian bush? The Rapids and Eucalypt at Springvale is the spot for you. It is known for its towering gum trees, native shrubs, and an abundance of friendly fauna. Surround yourself with ambient nature sounds such as frogs croaking in the creek and bird calls. If you have a very keen eye, you might even spot our resident Tawny Frogmouths nesting in the branches above

3. Gardenia

Welcome to a beautiful oasis in the heart of Springvale Botanical Cemetery - Gardenia is a hidden gem. Tucked away in the lush greenery of our established gardens there, you can find our Gardenia Gazebo. Aptly named, it is surrounded by striking sculptures and vibrant fauna that change into beautiful Autumn hues this time of year - making this the perfect place to picnic with friends and family.

4. Presbyterian C

A rose among green bushes

Turn back the clock and step into one of the older areas of Springvale Botanical Cemetery. Surrounded by rich history such as ornate older memorials, our Victorian-style gazebo is located in Presbyterian Compartment C and overlooks a ring of colourful roses making this a beautiful place to relax with a picnic.

5. Lake Australis

a bulding overlooking a lake view

Our picnic lunch bags are also available to pick up at Bunurong Memorial Park. Located in Dandenong South, Bunurong is a unique contemporary Australian Parkland with rolling fields of grass and a clear sky view.

6. Barbeque Areas

Purpose-built for the community, Bunurong Memorial Park provides barbeque areas that are perfect for a picnic in an open field. This space comes with benches and chairs to use and barbeques for public use.

The beauty of traditions is that they can evolve and adapt over time. We need to reconsider our interaction with cemetery spaces, finding ways to honour and respect them while integrating them into our everyday lives.

Our locations are designed to shift with the changing needs of our community and with Mother’s Day approaching we welcome all visitors to join us to celebrate your loved ones amongst nature.

Our events also extend across the year to support our community during special cultural days and provide the space for visitors to connect. If you are interested in events offered through our Care and Wellbeing Program visit our events page.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Stay up to date on our events by joining our mailing list.

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