HEATH Ledger's body was swarmed by up to 50 paparazzi as his casket left a New York funeral home as he began his final journey home to Perth today.
"Back up. Back up, please," an NYPD officer yelled at swarming photographers as the funeral parlour employees wheeled the crate to the hearse.
The journey to Perth is expected to take two days.
Ledger's departure came just hours after his grieving father Kim, mother Sally and sister Kate landed in New York.
The Ledgers, along with their son's former fiancee Michelle Williams and Ledger's two-year-old daughter Matilda and close friends, attended a private memorial service in Manhattan.
Another memorial service is expected in Los Angeles next week.
"There is a private memorial service today and I also understand that there will be a public memorial service in Los Angeles later this week," Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, in New York for meetings at the United Nations and to attend G'Day USA events, told reporters at a Manhattan hotel today.
The Australian government has offered to assist the Ledger family in anyway it can.
"Whatever decision they take Australia stands ready to help them," Mr Smith added.
Ledger's body is expected to be laid to rest at a funeral for family in Perth next week.
While in Manhattan the actor's parents will also meet with New York's chief medical examiner, who conducted the autopsy, in the hope of finding answers to why their 28-year-old son died.
New York police sources say investigators are leaning toward an accidental drug overdose with prescription pills as the cause of death, although toxicology results expected in a week will likely solve the riddle.
New York police found six different types of prescription drugs in Ledger's apartment, including pills to treat insomnia and anxiety.
Ledger died on Tuesday in a $US23,000 ($A26,000) a month SoHo loft apartment he was renting from friend and actress, Mary-Kate Olsen.
Olsen has become a central figure in Ledger's death, despite being in Los Angeles when a masseuse, Diane Wolozin, found him face down in bed when she arrived at the loft for a scheduled massage appointment.
Wolozin made repeated calls to Olsen before calling the New York emergency phone number, 911.
New York police said they have no reason to interview Olsen.
Olsen, in her first public comment on Ledger's death, released a short statement today through her publicist.
"Heath was a friend," Olsen said.
"His death is a tragic loss.
"My thoughts are with his family during this very difficult time."
Wolozin may not escape the attention of authorities.
It was revealed today the New York Education Department has notified the NYPD that Wolozin does not have a licence to practice as a masseuse in New York.
Under New York law, anyone not authorised to practice a licensed profession could be charged with a felony.