Cemetery Renewal

To ensure Karrakatta can remain open as the city grows, we must continue to make new spaces available.

Karrakatta was first opened in 1899 and initially expected to be completely occupied by 2004. Without cemetery renewal, Karrakatta would be unable to offer new burials to families and given its central location, pressure to redevelop the land would be high. Across Australia and around the world, thousands of closed and deteriorating cemeteries located in residential areas have been redeveloped for other purposes.

Urban redevelopment and its impact on the historic East Perth cemetery provides an insight into the potential future if Karrakatta was to close its gates to new burials and memorial gardens.

What does cemetery renewal involve?

Cemetery renewal involves our team renewing older parts of the cemetery, including redeveloping walkways and other public areas to make space.

Our team cares about the dignity of every grave. At no time is there any disturbance to the remains interred within existing graves.

Put simply, new graves are located alongside old graves in areas that were previously used as public space. Often old or damaged headstones will need to be relocated as they have fallen into disrepair. As part of this process, we make every effort to trace any remaining family connections to keep them informed. Our careful approach to this process can be found below in the “How we consult with family, friends and the community” section.

Careful planning and consultation

We understand and honour the emotional connection attached to final resting places. We work with great respect to ensure families are consulted ahead of any renewal works.

Prior to any works, we consult with a committee comprised of historians, genealogists, architects and a representative of the Office of Australian War Graves. An extensive, 12-month community consultation is undertaken, which includes prominent signage, letters to registered families, press advertising, and consideration of public submissions.

We also take a comprehensive photographic record of the existing plot to ensure families have a lasting memory of the location and create a special Memorial Book for each renewed section.

If you would like to know more about cemetery renewal, please view the comprehensive guide Ensuring Our Future. If you would like to know more about what is involved in cemetery renewal at Karrakatta, our specialist team has written detailed FAQs listed below. Should you have any further questions about cemetery renewal at Karrakatta Cemetery, please use the button at the top of the page to contact us.

Cemetery Renewal FAQs

How are areas selected for cemetery renewal?

At Karrakatta, most graves require a Grant of Right of Burial which is essentially a 25-year lease. An additional 25-year extension can be added. If required, families can apply for a further Grant of Right of Burial to hold the exclusive rights to bury, place ashes in or add monumental work to a grave.

Cemetery renewal is usually only undertaken in areas where most of the Grants of Right of Burial have expired and have not been repurchased. In these areas, many of the headstones have fallen into a state of disrepair and are rarely maintained by visitors to the grave.

Prior to any works, the MCB consults with an expert committee comprised of historians, genealogists, architects and a representative of the Office of Australian War Graves. All headstones are assessed for historical significance, stonemasonry craft and other important factors. Once this work has been completed and the decision of the committee is to proceed with the next steps, an extensive 12 month community consultation period commences.

How do you consult with family, friends and the community?

Before any cemetery renewal works are undertaken at Karrakatta, we launch an extensive 12-month community consultation program under the expert guidance of a client relations officer. This process includes:

  • Outreach program to families who have registered their contact details with the cemetery
  • Notices and press advertising in the West Australian
  • Call for submissions from the community and a thorough assessment of all submissions received
  • High profile site signage in the proposed renewal areas

If at the end of the 12-month consultation period the renewal program is approved by the Board, the Minister for Local Government is asked for permission to proceed. Only with Government approval can any works be undertaken.

What happens during cemetery renewal process?

Our team works with great respect, dignity and care at all times. All headstones are retained, either in situ or as close as possible to the original location. Where possible, relocated headstones are retained respectfully in beautifully landscaped memorial gardens or mounted upon limestone walls for future generations to visit to pay their respects. Some headstones will remain in their original location and are not impacted by the process.

We also take a comprehensive photographic record of the existing headstone to ensure families have a lasting memory of the location. We can provide photos of the memorial or headstone of a loved one.

New graves are mostly placed in spaces that were originally occupied by a footpath between the existing graves. The remains in the original grave are completely undisturbed by the new grave. The diagram below shows an under the surface view of a renewal area.

How can I find out if my family grave is impacted?

To find out if a family grave is in a proposed renewal area, please download the cemetery map and check against the location and grave number. Click on the button at the top of the page to view Karrakatta maps.

If you don’t know the location or grave number, click on the button at the top of the page to search our cemetery records. Your search result will indicate the renewal status of the grave that you have located. Additional enquiries can be directed to Client Services at Karrakatta on 1300 793 109 or via email mcb@mcb.wa.gov.au

Karrakatta Map overall showing renewal areas

If a family grave is in a renewal area, there are some options available to you should you wish to retain it. This includes:

  • Repurchase the Grant of Right of Burial for the grave. This option is only available in certain circumstances and is dependent on the proposed future use of the renewed section.
  • Relocation of the headstone to another family grave in Karrakatta, or within the renewed area
  • Purchase an adjoining new grave within the renewed area and transfer the existing headstone to the new grave
  • Establish a new memorial within the newly improved landscape
  • Collect and remove the headstone from the cemetery


  • make a submission for retaining the grave for historical and posterity reasons. Refer to the Guide for assistance in making submission.

War Graves (Official Commemorations) and Cemetery Renewal

The MCB acknowledges the sacrifices of Australian service personnel who served their nation in war to protect the freedoms we enjoy today and recognises the respect the community of Western Australia has for those service personnel who died during World War One (WW1) and World War Two (WW2).

In 2008, the MCB signed a Memorandum of Arrangement (MoA) with the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) to specify the activities between the MCB and OAWG in relation to WW1 and WW2, War Graves and memorials in cemeteries controlled and managed by the MCB.

In 2019, the Arrangement was reviewed by the MCB and OAWG and a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to uphold the original and include Victoria Cross, George Cross and Cross of Valour recipients.

The MCB continues to work very closely with the OAWG to ensure that service personnel’s memory is honoured and where practicable ensuring that all Official War Graves are retained, as per the MoU.

A representative from OAWG is a standing member on the Monument Assessment and Advisory Committee.

To find more information about eligibility for official commemoration please visit OAWG.