Angels were not always depicted the way we see them now. Depictions of angels with features such a halos, wings, and as female figures were popularised during the Renaissance. The distinct lack of Renaissance era cemeteries in Australia means the angel sculptures found here take much more influence from Victorian art. Mourning during this time (1837-1901) was itself an art form. Symbolism was an important choice and a part of the ritual of mourning and the appearance and pose of an angel indicated certain things.
Angels with wings are the messengers of god, and if the wings are outstretched they are guiding the soul on the flight to heaven. They may also appear to be escorting the soul into heaven.
A weeping angel symbolises an untimely death, and therefore is common to find over the grave of a child. The image of an angel draped over a grave is based on a famous sculpture by William Wetmore Story called The Angel of Grief. A cherub also mourns the death of a child.
Furthermore, it is common to see Gabriel and Michael, archangels of the Christian canon. These can be identified as Gabriel is depicted with a horn and Michael is depicted with a sword or a shield.
In Australia it is more likely to find angel sculptures on graves that date back to the Victorian era. Elaborate headstones and funerary rituals diminished rapidly after this period in Australia due to war and Depression.