Friends and family of actor Heath Ledger gathered in Perth for a private funeral service on Saturday followed by a spontaneous splash in the West Australian surf.

About 300 people, including Ledger's crushed former partner, Michelle Williams, gathered in the actor's hometown Perth for the final farewell. Oscar-winning actor Cate Blanchett, model Gemma Ward and the heart-broken Ledger family came to pay their last respects.

We want to thank those of you who took care of him and participated in his beautiful life, his family said.

The ceremony was held in the theatre of Penrhos College, the exclusive girls' school where, as a child, Ledger often sat in the front row watching his sister perform in school plays.

Unmarked police cars and plain-clothed officers escorted the entourage to the chapel and stood watch as mourners were required to produce identification to get admission to the chapel. The service which began at 1pm local time forbade the use of cameras during the 90-minute service.

A grim-faced Williams, dressed in a cream dress and without daughter Matilda, looked frail and had to be supported by Ledger's sister Kate.

Ledger's best friend and godfather to Matilda, Jake Gyllenhaal, was absent from the service at a chapel at an exclusive girls' school.

During the service, clips from some of Ledger's films were screened and a tune called Matilda, written by musician Ben Harper, was played as the montage of his daughter Matilda was screened.

The family and friends then gathered for a wake last night at Cottesloe's Indiana restaurant overlooking the surf at the famous Perth beach. Williams and Kate Ledger left his wake to join dozens of others at an uplifting farewell at the Perth beach he had loved so much. For Ledger's loved ones, it was a soothing end to an emotion-charged day.

Ledger, an Oscar nominee for his role in Brokeback Mountain, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on January 22 of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

Order of the service:

Opening music: These Days (Powderfinger), Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), Superstition (Stevie Wonder), The Times They Are A Changin' (Bob Dylan), Seven Nation Army (White Stripes), The Past And Pending (the Shins)

Words: Kate Ledger

Family montage: To Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles

Paul Summers: Speaks on behalf of Ledger's American agent Steve Alexander

Matilda's montage: To Happy Everafter In Your Eyes written for Matilda by Ben Harper

Words: Neil Armfield

Off-screen footage

Words: Cate Blanchett

On-screen footage

Words: Kane Manera, Paul Mullvert

Friends' montage: To 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins

Words: Kim Ledger, Sally Bell

Family montage: To Old Man by Neil Young