Complete Guide to Headstones and Monuments in Australia

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Gathered Here


Choosing a gravestone marker to memorialise a loved one is no easy task. The terminology can be unfamiliar; the options can be confusing; and the decisions to be made can seem endless.

This guide will help alleviate some of that stress by giving you a good understanding of the entire headstone selection process, from choosing the type and colour of stone, to drafting a meaningful inscription. It’ll also help you out with all that (often confusing!) industry-based terminology, and give you an idea of the kind of price you can expect to pay for your selected headstone or monument.

Keep reading to learn more about:

    • Headstone and monument terms and meanings
    • Choosing a headstone or monument
    • Headstone and monument materials
    • Headstone and monument design
    • Monument accessories
    • Headstone and monument inscriptions
    • Headstone and monument prices

Headstone and monument terminology – What do all the words mean?

‘Headstone’… ‘Tombstone’… ‘Gravestone’… ‘Monument’… What exactly does each of these terms mean? Are they different or do they actually all refer to the same thing?

When organising a loved one’s burial site the terminology can get very confusing. So here’s a simple explanation:

‘Headstone’ / ‘Tombstone’ / ‘Gravestone’

The terms ‘headstone’, ‘tombstone’ and ‘gravestone’ are often used interchangeably, and refer to the marker (frequently made of stone) which is placed over, or at the head of, a grave. It usually sits atop a stone base, and has details about the deceased inscribed on it.


The term ‘monument’ refers to the entire physical memorial, which could be a headstone and base, or could be a more elaborate ‘full monument’.

‘Full monument’

A full monument includes the headstone and base at the head of the grave, as well as a kerb (providing a ‘border’ or boundary for the entire grave), and either a full-length cover stone (or slab) over the length of the grave or, alternatively, chipping or a garden bed covering the grave.

For a full list of terms and meanings relating to headstones, tombstones and monuments, see our Complete Guide to Headstone and Monument Terms and Meanings.

Cemetery section comprising headstones and bases

Headstone or monument – What should I choose?

Scrolling through our website, you will notice that there are many types of monuments from which you can choose. The monument you select should factor in 3 important criteria:

  1. Cemetery requirements – Cemeteries are comprised of various sections, and – quite often – a cemetery will only permit certain types of monuments to be installed in a particular section. It is important to identify the section of the cemetery in which the deceased will be, or has been, buried and to select a monument from the types that are allowed in that area.
  2. Religious/cultural beliefs – Likewise, if the monument is to be built in a religious part of the cemetery, the cemetery may stipulate monument requirements for that section.
  3. Price – Of course, your budget will affect the monument options available to you. While lawn monuments fall on the cheaper end of the spectrum, full monuments are more expensive and are a more suitable option for those looking to spend more.

Headstones (or lawn monuments)

Often referred to as a ‘lawn monument’, a headstone is a monument that is placed at the head of a grave (usually atop a base). Lawn monuments are a very traditional form of memorial and can be found across almost every cemetery.

To learn more about types of headstones, and view real-life examples, see our Complete Guide to Choosing a Headstone or Monument.

Rows of sloper headstones at the cemetery

Full monuments

Full monuments are larger and more elaborate than headstones. In contrast to headstones which are placed at the head of the grave, full monuments usually cover the whole grave.

To learn more about types of monuments, and view real-life examples, see our Complete Guide to Choosing a Headstone or Monument.

A row of full monuments at the cemetery

Materials – What are headstones and monuments made of?

Headstones and monuments are made of sandstone, marble, concrete or – most commonly – granite.

Granite is the most durable of the above options, and is often available in a range of different colours; however, the trade-off is that it can be more expensive than other tombstone materials.

To learn more about headstone and monument materials, see our Complete Guide to Choosing a Headstone or Monument.

Monument design – What style should I pick?

Headstones (or lawn monuments)

While flat grave markers, flat tablets and slopers tend to be fairly similar in appearance due to the stipulations of the cemetery section in which they are installed, the possibilities for headstone design are practically unlimited. When choosing a headstone, you will need to decide on:

  • shape – headstones can be made in almost any shape, from square, heart or book, to angels or teardrops;
  • finish – the headstone can be polished, sawn (unpolished edges) or natural rock.

To learn more about types of headstones, and view real-life examples, see our Complete Guide to Choosing a Headstone or Monument.

Double heart-shaped headstone and base with a rock finish and a vase accessory in the centre

Full monuments

Likewise, subject to the requirements of a particular cemetery, the design of a full monument can be tailored to meet your likes and needs. When designing a full monument, you should think about:

  • kerbing or kerb set – the ‘border’ of the monument can be created in a range of styles and made from various types of stone;
  • posts – posts can be included on either or both of the side and front of the kerbing. Vase posts usually have a hole to hold a flower container;
  • slab or chips – you can select a stone slab in a material matching the kerb to cover the grave (i.e. the space within the perimeter of the kerb) or, alternatively, this area can be covered with granite chips.

To learn more about types of full monuments, and view real-life examples, see our Complete Guide to Choosing a Headstone or Monument.

Monument Accessories

If you have selected a monument, you might also want to add accessories. Accessories vary broadly and can include:

  • vases and other flower containers;
  • candle boxes;
  • lamps;
  • granite books;
  • framed photographs;
  • statues;
  • urns;
  • crucifixes, crosses and other religious motifs;
  • solar lights.
Double full monument with statue accessories

Headstone and monument inscriptions – What should I say?


It goes without saying that the inscription on a loved one’s tombstone is important – it not only notes key details such as their name, date of birth and date of death, but also usually includes an epitaph. An epitaph is a short statement which farewells the deceased and helps those visiting the grave to remember them.

Epitaphs often convey a message:

  • about, or for, the deceased – for example, “Forever in our hearts”; or
  • about life, death, spirituality, religion or similar – for example, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.

The words you choose to put on a headstone or monument will depend on the type of person the deceased was, any applicable cultural or religious customs, and the amount of space available on the marker.

For inspiration and examples of headstone and monument inscriptions and epitaphs, see our Guide to Headstone and Memorial Inscriptions: Wording, Design and Cost.

Style of inscription

You will also need to consider how you want the inscription to look. You will need to decide on:

  • font – that is, the style of the text;
  • use of symbols (if any);
  • use of photo/s (if any);
  • whether a language other than English will be used;
  • engraving – how the letters are cut into the stone.

To learn more about engraving options, and view real-life examples, see our Guide to Headstone and Memorial Inscriptions: Wording, Design and Cost.

For information about adding an additional inscription to an existing headstone, see our Guide to Headstone Inscription Services.

Price – How much does a headstone or monument cost?

As you can see from the guide above, the options for headstone and monument designs are practically endless. So too, prices for headstones and monuments vary greatly.

As a guide:

  • simple grave markers can start at around $750 – $1,000;
  • a fairly simple headstone can start at around $2,000 – $3,000;
  • a basic full monument can start at around $3,000 – $5,000.

Of course, the bigger and more elaborate the monument you choose, the more expensive the materials you select, and the more additions you make (e.g. inscriptions, accessories, etc.), the more the price will increase. Cemetery regulations can also affect price.

To learn more about the cost of headstones and monuments, see our Guide to Headstone and Monument Costs.

You can also use Gathered Here to get a better idea of the cost of the headstone or monument you are looking for. Just select your preferred monument style from our online store, and we’ll send you 3 price quotes from local headstone and monument masons. It’s quick, easy, and there’s no obligation for you to purchase. Request your quotes now.

We hope you’ve found this Guide to Headstones and Monuments in Australia useful. For more information about buying a memorial, visit our Headstones, Monuments and Memorials FAQs. Or, if you have any questions about our headstone and monument quote service, or our monumental mason comparison service, get in touch with us at or start a live chat by clicking the floating message box in the bottom right corner of your screen.

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