The family of Oscar-nominated Australian actor Heath Ledger is keeping funeral plans for the late actor private. ((Chris Carlson/Associated Press))

A private memorial was held in Los Angeles Saturday evening for actor Heath Ledger, with colleagues, friends and family members arriving to honour the Brokeback Mountain star, according to several online and print reports.

Family members of the Oscar-nominated Australian actor, who died at his Manhattan flat last week, retrieved his body from a New York funeral home on Friday and travelled to Los Angeles where a brief ceremony was held on Saturday.

According to reports in the New York Daily News and tmz.com, members of Ledger's family and actress Naomi Watts — the 28-year-old Ledger's former girlfriend — were among those seen entering a chapel at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary.

It is believed that Ledger's family is taking his remains back home to Perth, where private funeral services will be held.

Some believe the secrecy surrounding the family's actions is due to the fact that a right-wing religious group had vowed to protest any public tributes or memorials for Ledger because of his starring role in the acclaimed film Brokeback Mountain, in which the actor portrayed a gay cowboy.

Still, the approximately 1,000 people attending the annual G'Day USA Australia Day Ball held in New York Saturday night spent time paying tribute to Ledger.

Organizers projected an image of Ledger on a large screen and John Olsen, Australia's consul-general in New York, read a letter from the actor's father, Kim.

"Heath is, and always will be, an Australian," the letter read. "Heath did not become an actor for the fame or fortune. He loved his craft and he loved helping his friends.

"My image of Heath in New York is him with his skateboard, a canvas bag and his beanie. That was Heath to me."

Those in attendance also observed a minute of silence.

The cause of Ledger's death remains unknown after an intial autopsy proved inconclusive. The New York medical examiner's office said it needed more time to complete toxicology test.

Police investigators have said they suspect the actor suffered an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, several of which were found inside Ledger's apartment.

With files from the Associated Press