About Centennial Park

20/10/2022

A place that exudes life and is as much for the living as it is a place to care for those no longer with us! A place that is a sanctuary connecting people to each other within a rich tapestry of beautiful gardens and facilities.

Centennial Park was founded in 1936, the year of the Centenary of South Australia, 100 years after Proclamation, hence the name Centennial Park. It is situated on 100 acres (40 hectares) - and the distance from the front gate on Goodwood Road to the back gate at Manse Terrace is 1 kilometre.

There are approximately 9 kms of roads - tree-lined avenues - that run through Centennial Park.

Centennial Park is jointly owned by Unley and Mitcham Councils. Unley and Mitcham Council purchased the land for £4,000 or £40 per acre.

The first burial at Centennial Park occurred in 1938.

By the end of April 1939, the first full year of operation, there had only been thirty-four burials. In 1988, fifty years on, there were 1,285 burials and 3,262 cremations.

They look after the memorials of more than 150,000 people at Centennial Park.

Centennial Park is a wildlife corridor with an abundance of native wildlife including more than 30 native bird species, koalas, possums and even two tortoises. They also have thousands of flowering and native plants including almost 8,000 rose bushes and over 150 different varieties of roses. They also have an island and two creeks - and 20 fountains as we know that seeing and hearing water soothes many and assists some to heal.

On any one day, multiple events are hosted to enable connection and where life is cherished, commemorated, contemplated and celebrated.

Centennial Park is completely self- funded and returns a fee to each of the owner councils (Mitcham and Unley councils) in recognition of the guarantee they provide to meet ongoing operating and maintenance costs of Centennial Park - in the unlikely event that Centennial Park is unable to meet them.

The beautiful Jubilee Complex houses the spaces we offer for funeral and memorial services for those who want to remember a life even sometime after a death. The Jubilee Complex was built in 1986 - the year of South Australia's Jubilee (150 years since Proclamation) and was opened on Sunday the 16th November that year, 50 years from the official opening of Centennial Park. The Jubilee Complex is made from Donnybrook Sandstone. The quarry in WA was specifically reopened so they could get the particular stone to construct the building.

Before this building the original chapels were where the Café now sits. Services were conducted in a very different manner back then, lasting approximately 20-25 mins and the crematorium was connected to the building. Services these days last on average from 45mins to 1 hour.

The Jubilee Complex consists of three spaces for services, The Heysen, The Florey and The Mawson. Of course, the Function Rooms adjacent Wildflowers Café can also be used for memorial services as well as wakes if families wish.

The Heysen, the Florey and The Mawson were named after prominent South Australians.

  • Sir Hans Heysen, a South Australian artist who captured the raw, red grandeur of South Australia's bush;
  • Lord Howard Florey, a pathologist and microbiologist, who was instrumental in the discovery and development of penicillin; and
  • Sir Douglas Mawson, a geologist who successfully explored the Antarctica. We believe that The Mawson was designed to be the same size as Mawson's hut on his expedition.

Each of the three spaces is a different size to allow for varying funeral or memorial service sizes. The intimate Mawson comfortably seats up to 30, the Florey up to 90 and the Heysen up to 230, with its upper level. We can also offer parts of the Jubilee Complex Foyer in addition to the Heysen for even larger services of up to almost 800 people.

The Jubilee Complex was the first of its kind - unique in structure - guests filter through the front and move into separate chapels and then afterward, over to our Function Rooms (a ramp enables access to those who can't negotiate the few stairs).

They have hosted many events and exhibitions within the beautiful Jubilee Complex - a stunning place for gatherings, art and reflection.

Centennial Park has over 30 themed gardens. Memorials provide families and friends with a place to visit to reflect and remember - so as to continue to connect with a loved one and to heal. They also connect future generations to a life that plays a part in shaping their story and who they are - adding meaning and identity to their lives. Memorials are a very important part of dealing with grief. They provide opportunities to sustain extended family and friends as they heal.

Centennial Park is Adelaide's leading cemetery offering a range of smart memorials to include plaques and urns. This technology enables family and friends to connect to their loved ones life story via a secure App, whether they have a memorial at Centennial Park, or a memorial at home.

Centennial Park believes that all lives deserve to be remembered, not by just a few, but by many.

Ashes kept in homes or privately limit the number of people that can continue to connect with a life by visiting a PLACE specifically for that.

Some people have chosen to have a plaque memorial at Centennial Park and have the actual ashes of their loved one elsewhere. They like the public recognition of a life once lived. You will see when you are in the gardens that there are many different opportunities to memorialise to cater for all types of wishes. Some like their loved one to be near rose bushes, others like them to be near water, while for others a wall or particular tree might be important.

Centennial Park values individuality and personal choice.

When ashes are interred in their gardens, they provide the opportunity for a ceremony around that. This is called a Witness of Placement and their team prepare the position and the family for this very special occasion if they wish.

The memorial gardens include various themed gardens from traditional memorial gardens to very contemporary options. They have tropical, herb, English themed gardens, rose gardens and gardens with Australian flora. There are areas within for full burials, ashes burials or plaque-only memorials.

Centennial Park are proud of the many types of interesting plants from Sun Hardy ferns and frangipani's, Yucca's and monstera plants. There is a custard apple tree which is originally native to South America and has a luscious and flavoursome fruit. This tree is typically grown in Queensland but is thriving here at Centennial Park with some TLC from our dedicated landscape gardeners. There is also a Paulownia plant which is an Asian tree and is the world's fastest growing tree. Paulownia wood has many characteristics and uses and it was once customary in Japan to plant a tree when a Japanese girl was born and then make the wood from the tree into a dresser when she married.

Contemplation Court

Built in the late 1990s, Contemplation Court is a unique facility in South Australia that allows family and friends to visit loved ones for several months after cremation until final decisions are made about a memorial. Centennial Park recognised that without a physical place to visit and reflect people can feel lost, particularly in the early stages of the grieving process. Contemplation Court is a complimentary temporary memorial provided to the families of those who have been cremated at Centennial Park.

Centennial Park was the first cemetery in Australia to offer this service and as far as we are aware, we are the only one in South Australia to offer it.

Centennial Park is committed to environmental sustainability and the reduction of its carbon footprint forms part of its continued efforts to be not only sustainable but also to regenerate where we can. We have won UN world environment awards and been finalists in the prestigious Banksia Awards. Over the last 13 years, we have reduced out overall yearly emissions by 44.2% or 660 tonnes of Co2-e - Carbon Dioxide equivalent.

Planting an average of 1,000 trees and shrubs each year and have been a partner of Trees for Life since 1990.

We continue to innovate and change the way we do things to improve the Park while also reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill and reducing our electricity consumption and reliance on mains water.

The Operations Complex was built with a range of environmental features including: -

  • Sloping roofs with moveable windows, providing additional natural lighting and help with ventilation and air flow, reducing the need for heating and cooling.
  • Rainwater and stormwater is captured and stored in a large underground tank totalling over 215,000 litres.

Olive Terrace and Olive Views are their newest premium burial areas offering large monuments for the first time at Centennial Park. Monuments can be of up to 1.8m tall. Prior to this area all headstones were of the same height for uniformity. However, as community needs and wants change they also need to adapt and that's why they have developed these new areas. This area has beautiful views of the hills and the sea and are a good option for those looking for something very special.

They now offer perpetuity at Centennial Park - that means you can purchase Interment Rights (the right to use a position) and own that Right forever. Previously (before the current 2013 Burial and Cremations Act), in South Australia, only limited tenure was an option. Centennial Park were the first major metropolitan cemetery to offer both options. They are all about maximizing CHOICE for our families as well as CONTROL of the decisions that are best for them. Perpetuity can be an attractive option for families who do not want future generations to have to worry about the decision of renewing a position or not. And families can pay for it over time. They are finding that some people receiving an inheritance are paying for positions of parents, grandparents etc in perpetuity for peace of mind for their future generations - knowing that the resting places chosen by family members in the past will be maintained forever, without relying on the decision of future generations.

In March 2021 they opened Wildflowers Café, Gift Shop and Function Rooms. The design of the Café and Function Rooms was in response to community feedback. They are light, bright, connected to the gardens and outward looking, to enhance healing and promote moving forward. This is quite different to directing people into the previous lounges which were not removed enough from the service spaces.

The Function Rooms have been very popular for families to gather in after a funeral service to share stories about a loved one, reconnect and enjoy the calming and uplifting space while enjoying quality food and beverage from their catering partner, Blanco Horner. There are 3 rooms and they can be used independently or two rooms or all 3 can opened up to create a larger space to accommodate different size groups.

The Café, the first café in a cemetery in South Australia, is a wonderful place for people to meet and gather, whether before or after a funeral service or wake, while visiting a memorial or just while enjoying our stunning Park. 

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A place that exudes life and is as much for the living as it is a place to care for those no longer with us! A place that is a sanctuary connecting people to each other within a rich tapestry of beautiful gardens and facilities.