Sanctuary for life

Macarthur Memorial Park will be an innovative, sustainable and multi-denominational memorial and parkland destination, designed to honour life, culture and community for generations to come.

This unique memorial park will be distinctly landscaped over 113 hectares of open space, respecting the sites significant indigenous and colonial heritage. The iconic public space will be open to all and will include peaceful walking tracks, a café and an inspiring sculpture park.

The facilities are best in class and designed to create a place of identity and belonging for the whole community. This holistic place of remembrance and healing has been sustainably designed and purpose built for the preservation of future generations.

Construction of Sydney’s newest cemetery resumed after the NSW Labor Government resolved a stand-off between its Catholic operator and the previous government.

Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper signed the letter of appointment on 16 June 2023 for Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust to run the new cemetery at Varroville in south-west Sydney.

Completion of the cemetery is now being fast-tracked. When the Macarthur Memorial Park opens in February 2025, it will be a world class, innovative and sustainable cemetery for all religious groups easily accessed by the M5 and M7. With 136,000 burial plots, it will help to solve the critical shortage of cemetery space across Sydney, with cemeteries such as Rookwood, Liverpool, and Woronora almost full.

As well as affordable burials, Macarthur Memorial Park will provide 35 hectares of publicly accessible areas, peaceful walking tracks, 6 lakes, a cafe, sculpture park, community lawns and boardwalks. The cemetery will be predominately a lawn cemetery with areas available for natural burial, cremated remains and monumental lawns. The landscape principle is one of no headstones visible from the main roads with screen planting used for the concealed burial rooms. There is no mausoleum or crypts or crematorium planned for this site.

The new cemetery is supported by other faith groups including the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Muslim Cemeteries Board.

It ends a dispute with the previous NSW Government which in 2021 sought to dismantle the Catholic cemeteries trust and merge it with four underperforming trusts into one government-operated entity called One Crown—now renamed to Metropolitan Memorial Parklands.

Nearly 20,000 people signed the Save Our Graves petition to the NSW Legislative Assembly, which deputy CEO of Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria said “showed the former government loud and clear that religious groups have a role to play in honouring the dead and caring for those who’ve lost a loved one.”

The Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust is now the Crown land manager of Macarthur Memorial Park.

In recent weeks MCB has been receiving increasing number of requests to pre-purchase* burial plots for future use. We are all aware of the acute shortage of burial places in NSW. While the State Government has started various project initiatives to address this situation,  most of those projects are part of a long term strategy rather than to address short & medium-term demand. 

At present, Kemps Creek Cemetery is the only cemetery that has a reasonable number of burial plots set aside for Muslims. However, given the number of uncommitted plots remaining, and based on current level of daily interments, it is projected that all remaining plots will be allocated in about 6 years; pre-purchase* of plots for future use is substantially shortening this time horizon. 

MCB has therefore requested Catholic Cemetery Board to cease allocation for pre-purchase* at Kemps Creek Cemetery and only dispense* burial plots for immediate usage.

There may still be some plots available through Community Organizations who have reserved plots in the past for their communities, please contact them directly for any enquiries.

MCB is currently in discussion with Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust looking for any opportunity to establish a Muslim burial area in 2 cemeteries under their management; discussions are also continuing with Catholic Cemeteries Board to avail Muslim community an area in the newly approved Wallacia cemetery.

It is important to note, establishment of faith based burial ground involves long and complex process, often taking much longer than anticipated. Development of Wallacia is a few years away even after the court decision; work at Varroville cemetery is currently on hold, once approval to go-ahead is received the project will resume its construction timeline of 2.5-3 years before coming online for interments.  

We therefore need to continually adjust our allocation strategy for Kemps Creek to extend its availability for interments until such time a new alternative site is accessible.

*License for Burial