• Date: 30/04/2019
  • Cemetery: GMCT Home

Are you searching for information about a loved one or ancestor interred or cremated at a GMCT cemetery? Historian and trust member Dr Jan Penney has shared some tips to get started – including some helpful places you may not have thought to look.

Begin with the GMCT deceased search

The GMCT deceased search and GIS mapping system includes interment and cremation records for all GMCT cemeteries and memorial parks, with the exception of Northcote Cemetery. Searches can be conducted using a combination of first name, surname and cemetery.

If you are not sure where a relative is buried, ensure the option to search all cemeteries is selected in the first instance. Consider that the names of cemeteries may have also changed over time.

Be specific when it comes to names, as searching by surname only often generates a large number of results. Try a range of spellings. Fred, for example, may be spelled Freddy, Frederick, Frederick, Friedrich, Fritz or Frederich. Emigrants sometimes changed their names after arriving in Australia, so search widely.

GMCT’s deceased search and GIS mapping system will display available information related to the individual being searched. The GIS mapping system will display a map indicating the specific location of the interment or scattering where applicable.

Deepen your record search

It is important to note that not all records relating to burials and services which have taken place at a GMCT cemetery or memorial park are available through the online mapping system.

If you have searched and have been unable to locate who or what you are looking for, other avenues are available. A more detailed search of cemetery records can be requested under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act. Please note charges may apply to such requests.

GMCT was established in 2010 through a merger of eight separate cemetery trusts. At this time, we inherited the records of each previous trust. Unfortunately, many of the inherited original hard copy records were incomplete. Many of our cemeteries have been in operation for a long time – some for more than 150 years. Historical manual recordkeeping processes may have only collected limited information and records may have been lost as a result of fire or other physical damage over time.   

GMCT recognises the importance of the records we manage, both for our business and for broader historical research. We’re investing considerable resources to improve the quality of our cemetery management, deceased search and mapping systems and we’re undertaking an extensive project to digitise our historical record collections.

Try complementary sources

Other sources may provide additional information about your ancestor or loved one. Please note the GMCT deceased search is the official source of information relating to interments within our cemeteries. While community organisations, historical societies, friends groups and other websites are an excellent additional resource, GMCT cannot guarantee the accuracy of data from alternative sources.

A straightforward Google search can be an good first step to uncover related information. Start by keeping the search wide and then narrow by using “ ” to locate material.

You can also try the following:


Trove is an Australian online library database aggregator hosted by the National Library of Australia, allowing you to search archives, historic newspaper articles and death notices.

When searching by name, try the format ‘Mr F. Smith’or ‘Mrs F. Smith’- this was the common form of address in early publications. Unmarried women were often simply Miss Smith without a first name.  

If your relative lived in one area most of their lives, then a dedicated search of local newspapers within Trove will result in many more local mentions becoming available. If it is a common surname and you know of a relevant date in their lives - eg marriage, death, birth - then you can also narrow the search by decade.

Ryerson Index

Trove only contains records prior to about 1950. For later death notices try Ryerson Index, a free database of all published death and funeral notices. You can then try to retrieve the actual notice from the paper in which it was published by searching their online website using the name and dates known.

Census records

Census records can be helpful to determine a place of residence and other family members where it is listed who lived in the same household in a particular year.

Births, Deaths and Marriages

To widen your search, consider searching the Births, Deaths and Marriages register or similar in each state. 

Community-based cemetery websites

There are numerous free, unofficial cemetery search sites such as Find A Grave, Billion Graves, Australian Cemeteries and so on. All vary in content and accuracy and many rely on community contributions, but they are worth a look. Some have photographs included of actual headstones or record the tombstone inscription.

Family history

There are the plethora of family history search sites such as Find My Past, My Heritage, Geni, Ancestor, My Ancestors and so on. Some are free but contain relatively little information. Others charge a monthly or annual fee but can be a valuable source.

War records

If your relative is of an age to have served in any war, search the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia to obtain further information. Many records are now digitised and available to read or copy. If not, they can be ordered.

Local history

It is also useful to check local historical society websites, local councils and local museum websites for related information or records. Many have lists of people buried in their local cemeteries. Others have biographies of local people on their websites or have published material on local businesses, parks and reserves named after local people, occupations and all sorts of relevant material.

Some cemeteries have historians and others interested in their local particular cemeteries and have amassed considerable material. Try using search terms on Google such as “Who is buried in … cemetery”. Or, put the name of the cemetery in as a search term and navigate to at least five pages of searches.

Friends groups

Some cemeteries have Friends groups which are very familiar with their cemeteries and may be able to assist with research. You can find out more about GMCT cemetery friends groups here.

Other organisations

The following organisations may also be a helpful resource, though most will focus on the cemetery rather than the individual.

Heritage Victoria

Royal Historical Society of Victoria

State Library of Victoria 

Museums Victoria

National Trust  

Genealogical Society of Victoria

Find out more

Please contact our customer care team on 1300 022 298 if you require additional assistance regarding our deceased search, GIS mapping system or interment data, or if you want to update your details as a right of interment (ROI) holder. You can also email requests for information relating to burial and service records to enquiries@gmct.com.au  

GMCT manages 19 sites across Melbourne’s north, east and west. A full list of cemeteries can be found on our locations page. GMCT is not able to provide information or access to records relating to cemeteries managed by other Victorian or interstate cemetery trusts.

Abour Dr Jan Penney BA, Dip Ed, PhD

Jan is a professional historian who has worked across the fields of heritage, education and tourism. She has taught at several universities, including Monash University where she delivered the master of public history course. She is also a former Chair of the Heritage Council of Victoria. Jan was appointed to The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust in 2010 and also authors GMCT’s biographical series Footprints in History.