2012-05-15

An Inside Look: Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park



    Eastern Suburbs Memorial park (ESMP) is also known as Botany Cemetery.  Founded in 1888 it is a nice cemetery and crematorium located in the Eastern Suburbs.  The cemetery caters to a lot of Greeks, Russians, Polish, Catholics and so on.  It is both nice and diverse.

    ESMP is independently owned and operated.

Location:
    ESMP's address is 49 Military Rd, Matraville.  The funeral home is 61 Military Rd Matraville.

Getting there:
    Putting the exact address into a GPS can be difficult, so just put in Military Rd Matraville.

    To get to the crematorium drive along Military Rd and enter the driveway where the signs indicate.  It will be the second driveway on the left when driving South along Military Rd.  Once you enter the crematorium grounds turn left for the car park.  Do NOT go straight or turn right and head towards the crematorium building, this is for funeral cars only.

West Chapel in the sunset.
    To get to the cemetery enter Cemetery Ave off Military Rd, this is the driveway between the florist/cafe and the funeral home.  Or enter via Forest Ave off Bunnerong Rd if you are on the other side of the cemetery.  These are also the exits from the cemetery.

    I have seen people enter the crematorium grounds while obviously looking for the cemetery.  They just turned one driveway too early.  It's rare but happens and is understandable.  Most people simply go through the car park and exit straight away.  However I remember one car that obviously panicked, late for a funeral and not sure of the area.  The car headed towards the crematorium building, entering the road for funeral cars only (which has signs) as that is the direction the cemetery is.  This car then saw the one-way road was blocked by a funeral and tried to do a u-turn, mounting and bumping the curb several times.  They went through the car park a few times before giving up and driving down the one-way road again, this time going through the funeral.  So look up the directions before you head off, otherwise you look like an inconsiderate idiot.

Getting out:
    This is for authorised funeral cars only.  To get out of the crematorium chapels you follow the road South towards the cemetery.  Upon reaching Cemetery Ave (the first cross street and the cemetery itself) you turn right.  Follow this road all the way to Military Rd.  Turn right on Military Rd and this will take you to an intersection where you can easily do a left towards the city and Botany Rd or a right for La Perouse.

    For mourners or others simply follow the car park and the signs to the exit where you can turn right on Military Rd.  This will take you to an intersection where you can easily do a left towards the city and Botany Rd or a right for La Perouse.

The main crematorium building.
Facilities:
    There are two chapels at ESMP named after points on the compas (like Northern Suburbs).  Both chapels have their advantages and disadvantages.

    One big disadvantage with ESMP is the services provided.  While the staff are nice they do little for mourners and are focused on funeral work.  If you need help with the AudioVisual system they will show you but also charge a lot for this.  And they will not stay through the funeral, they only show you quickly then leave.  I remember a rural funeral home who had no experience with the AV system, so we showed them how to run it rather than them being charged a few hundred by the crematorium.  Compare this to Macquarie Park where they run the AV system for you and for no additional cost!

Inside the South Chapel.
South Chapel:
    The South Chapel is at the Southern side of the building.  To get to this chapel the funeral cars will enter the special road at the right of the car park, then immediately turn left at the fork.  They follow the road for a short distance then turn right to park under the cover.

    This is the larger of the two chapels and features an overflow room and a cover over the driveway.  It is the only chapel to have this cover of the driveway and thus is the better chapel in summer or in the rain.  There are also toilets very close to this chapel.  This chapel has an AudioVisual system at the back of the room and some mints in a jar on the table.

Inside the West Chapel.
West Chapel:
    The West Chapel is on the Western side of the building.  To get here funeral cars enter the special road at the right of the car park then turn, then immediately turn right at the fork.  They follow this road a very short distance and park at the front of the steps.

    This is the smaller of the two chapels and does not have cover over the door or driveway.  It is however closest to the courtyard (which does have cover) near the car park and is in many ways closer to the car park itself.  Along with the two ramps makes it a better chapel for disable or less mobile people. This chapel has an AudioVisual system at the back of the room and some mints in a jar on the table.

Car Park:
    There is really only one car park at ESMP.  This is the one at the crematorium.  It's a decent car park, not too far from the crematorium and easy to drive around.  However there are not a lot of spaces so if two big funerals come in at the same time it can fill up.  Also there is little in the way of parking by the reception room.  As for the cemetery the roads are narrow and the intersections tight.  So pople can get parked in very easily and still end up a decent walk from the grave.  If you think the funeral is going to be big I would strongly recommend getting there 15 minutes early.

The cemetery at ESMP.
The Cemetery:
    The cemetery at ESMP is quite old and mostly quite beautiful.  With the blue beach in the background and the historic graves in the foreground it makes for a lovely walk.  There is a nice beach bordering the Southern side of the cemetery.  So you can park in the cemetery grounds and go for a nice walk to the beach.

    An issue with the cemetery is the narrow roads.  Much of the place was designed before cars, so like Waverley Cemetery it is full of narrow streets and tight corners.  This is only an issue if there is an on-coming car.  But otherwise hearse's and trucks drive through here all the time, so a regular car should get through fine.  Just be mindful of other cars and make way for funerals.

Reception Room:
    ESMP does have a reception room.  I have never been inside but hear it can be either very practical and good or cumbersome and awkward depending on how the caterers set it up.  The biggest issue is that the reception room is located by the cafe on Military Rd.  While this makes it easy to get to from Military Rd there is not much parking nearby and it is a decent walk from the crematorium.  So if you park at the crematorium for a service then go to the reception room for the wake you will be in for a walk.  The other thing is ESMP does not provide a courtesy shuttle (that I know of) to help people get between the crematorium and reception room, unlike other places such as Macquarie Park.  I have seen funeral cars and taxies make people walk from the crematorium to the reception room, in the rain and the sun.  The walk itself is not bad, it is flat, had a nice path and through a lovely garden.  But it is a longish walk.

Main Office:
    The main office is located on Military Rd, near the cafe and florist.  Here is where you  can talk to the reception desk for any questions or information.  If you arrive early to a cemetery funeral and need to know where the grave is this is where you go.  They are nice and will happily give you a map and even highlight the way if you smile.

Funeral Home:
    ESMP also owns and runs a funeral home (called Eastern Suburbs Funeral Services) which is located on Military Rd, at the entrance/exit of the cemetery.  I know nothing about this funeral home except that they market themselves to Greek clients.  If you are keen on using ESMP I would suggest talking to this funeral home as they might offer packages or discounts or even get preferencial treatments.

The main farm buildings as seen from ESMP.
The Chinese Market:
    At the back of ESMP cemetery there is an old farm area which is still in active use today.  It was listed on the national heritage register a few years ago and as such is now under protection.  However ESMP wants to take over the farm site for graves.  This is because the cemetery is quickly filling up and once full ESMP will run out of a considerable source of income.  And the farms are in the only area they could expand.  The Chinese farms are nice, tehy have a historic feel and look.  In fact the way the cemetery bleeds into farm land is quite a nice sight, so I recommend checking it out next time you are there.  The farms are located at the South Eastern side of the cemetery.

Services:
    As I said before a major issue with EMSP is a lack of services.  They can show you how to work the AudioVisual system in the chapels but will charge an additional fee.  Other places like Macquarie Park include someone who will not only show you the system but run it for you at no extra cost.

    Another issue is a lack of courtesy shuttles.  I do not know for sure that there is no shuttle service at ESMP but I have never seen or heard of it.  This is an issue for some when you consider the distance between the crematorium and car park to the reception center.


Useful Links & Information:

ESMP;
Phone: (02) 9661, 5655.
Hours: Gates open 06:30am to 20:00pm.

Crematory Office;
Phone: (02) 9661, 5655.

Eastern Suburbs Funeral Home;
Phone: (02) 9694, 9494.
Hours: 09:00am to 17:00pm.

Contact info.

Eastern Suburbs Funeral Home.

Cemetery homepage.

Crematory homepage.

Downloadable map.


    ESMP was once an award winning crematorium and cemetery.  The crematoriums have yearly competitions over who has the best garden and ESMP use to win regularly.  They have not won in years and it shows.  Overall the value for money at ESMP and quality is not great, you can get a better deal elsewhere.  The whole place feels as though it was once loved and cared for but is being forgotten.  However it is in a good location and has a nice historic atmosphere and they have recently made great improvements.



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