THE businessman behind the reincarnation of an old golf course in Somerville to a memorial botanic gardens says it is time to rethink what goes in the ground and look at more eco-friendly ways of honouring the dead.
Warren Roberts, pictured, is behind a company that combines science and nature to grow memorial gardens under a conservation agreement using detoxified cremated ashes that guarantee a “green” future for the deceased.
In what is promoted as a “world first”, the company opened a Living Legacy memorial park 10 years ago in Western Australia, converting land into a conservation park that protects endangered animals and where families can visit and give back to the environment.
Last year it bought the Bembridge golf course in Somerville, turning it too into a memorial park that instead of traditional coffin burials offers people a chance to “come back as a tree or flowers”.
The nine-hole golf course, 13.79 hectare property, which included a licensed cafe, function centre and one bed, one bath accommodation onsite, was placed on the market for the first time in 60 years in 2019.
The land, which was under green wedge zoning, was a market garden before becoming Bembridge golf course in 1995.
Mr Roberts said the idea for memorial gardens came to him after feeling devastated after the death of his best friend.
“I just felt lost and didn’t know how to grieve,” he said.
“It occurred to me that nature allows us to truly connect to life and eternity, and there is an environmental benefit in that we don’t put anything unnatural into the soil because there are no coffins or headstones, and the ashes are treated to remove the toxins.
“Our masterplan is 7000 trees planted into beautiful forests of jacarandas, magnolias, flames and ginkgos, so that mourners can visit and honour their loved ones in a unique way in a beautiful environment.”
Mr Roberts says although they may not be for everyone, memorial plantings allow both the deceased and mourners to “connect with nature and allows nature to be part of the healing process”.