Located on the Princes Highway and covering 160 ha, this cemetery was established in 1901, with the first burial taking place in March 1902. From 1904 to 1951 a special mortuary train ran between Melbourne and the Necropolis; the railway line was dismantled when the Sandown racecourse was extended.
The first cremation took place in the open in April 1905. This method was abandoned in 1906 and several structures subsequently built. The current crematorium was built in 1991, contains ten cremators, and is believed to be one of the largest in the world. The grounds also feature a war graves section, Mausoleum (1997), Police Memorial (1999), and Song He Yuan area for Asian-style burials and cremations.
The Necropolis contains both formal and informal gardens, including the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden, although Nicholas himself is not buried there. The Necropolis is administered by trustees appointed by the Governor-in-Council. It is a self-funded not-for-profit organisation. The Victorian Government handed the administration of St Kilda Cemetery and Melbourne General Cemetery to the Necropolis trustees in 1968 and 1980 respectively. Prominent people buried in the cemetery include VC winner Edward Ryan; Hume Pipe Industries founder Walter R. Hume; home-builder A.V. Jennings; and politician Sir Billy Snedden.