The brief was to design a range of burial options that provide a uniquely Australian burial experience that reflected the sites location whilst incorporating elements of sustainability, biodiversity and longevity. Following the masterplanning process Millar Merrigan were engaged to design a number of burial areas: Billanook Waters, Djeernongs Walk and Yellow Gum Gardens. Most recently we have been engaged to design MacIntyre Gardens and Peppermint Gum Garden.
An existing dam was located in a hollow, close to the western boundary of the site. This dam and existing drainage lines created an opportunity to provide water sensitive urban design (WSUD) solutions to a large portion of the site. The dam was incorporated into a series of billabongs and swales in an area now known as Billanook Waters. The design was inspired by the sinuous shape of billabongs that are common in the nearby floodplain of the Yarra River and are a regular component of the Yarra Flats topography. Two existing drains were diverted into the billabongs, which in turn collected and stored the runoff, slowed the movement of the water through the site and allowed for the removal of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous. Previously the untreated water ran off site through a large drain under Victoria Road and ultimately ended up in the Yarra River.
Billanook Waters will be developed in the next few years to provide a range of burial options in close proximity to this feature, the possibility of an outdoor chapel is being considered by the Trust to take advantage of this beautiful setting.
Djeernongs Walk is divided into two areas, the first part being the natural burial area where burials may occur, no markers however will be set to indicate where the individual grave sites are, instead the whole area has been mass planted with indigenous grasses and a centralized memorial stone where individual plaques can be affixed close to the place of burial. The ground is undulating and the provision of areas of massed planted indigenous grasses provides a dynamic landscape – the slightest wind sends a ripple through the plants. The plantings bring birds and wildlife into the park and add to the ecological diversity. The design is dramatically different to the traditional manicured lawn cemeteries and memorial parks and needs far less water, nutrients and maintenance to sustain it.
The second area is the scattered remains gardens, this is an area of natural type bushland where cremated remains can be scattered. Interconnecting curvilinear gravel paths and a small bridge enhance the visitors’ experience of the place. Seating is to be provided at key points so that visitors to the site may sit and look out over the landscape.
Yellow Gum Gardens
Stage 1A has been completed and has been very popular with many of the gravesites already utilised or purchased. The indigenous plantings attract a range of birds to the site, which enliven the space and the variation in form, colour and flowering times sees a constantly changing landscape.