The Alfred Nicholas Gardens are a delight to visit all year, and are renowned for their picturesque waterfalls, water features and its iconic ornamental lake and boathouse. The gardens are located in Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges. The 13 acre property was originally owned by Alfred Nicholas, who purchased the property in 1929. Nicholas made his fortune developing the first Australian Aspirin and named it ‘Aspro’ painkiller formula.
Nicholas had a dream of having the best gardens in all of Australasia and a dream home to match which he named Burnham Beeches. This Estate was designed as an Art Deco masterpiece, & likened to the lines of an ocean liner.
The gardens were donated to the Shire of Sherbrooke in 1965 and were named the ‘Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens’, which are currently managed by Parks Victoria.
Alfred Nicholas (1881-1937)
Alfred Nicholas with his brother George developed the Aspro painkiller formula. Becoming the first to officially patent the formula after it was lost from general use after the First World War.
Nicholas purchased the property around 1929, and had grand visions to build a dream home with gardens to match. 60 workers were hired to clear the grounds, and Alfred traveled to many parts of Victoria and overseas to look for established trees to populate his gardens. Designing it with a lake, rock pools, and numerous ornamental designs. Nicholas hired an expert gardener by the name of Percival to help with the creation of his prized garden. 150 trees were then shipped from England to Melbourne and then on to the gardens.
The gardens were a sense of pride to Nicholas, but sadly Alfred Nicholas never got to see the full extent of his legacy. When he passed away in 1937, the gardens were still not complete. His widow Isobel was then left to look after the property. Which resulted in the gardens falling into a state of deterioration.
Visit the gardens
Take a self-guided tour and explore the Alfred Nichols Gardens. The gardens itself are now owned and operated by Parks Victoria. Significant restorations were undertaken in the late 1990’s, which transformed the Alfred Nicholas gardens into the place that we know and love today.
At the top of the gardens you will find several moss-covered ponds, next to the mansion. These ponds have small bridges crossing. Throughout the park is an abundance of wildlife, with a blend of native and exotic trees including mountain ash, ginkgoes, maples and liquid ambers.
Towards the bottom of the park you will find a waterfall that empties into an ornamental lake with a small boathouse that reflects over the lake. There are walking trails around this lake with several bridges crossings to give you a view of the lake from all angles. And park benches which you can rest and take in the beauty of the gardens.
The park is great to visit all year round.
The walk down to the lake and boathouse is downhill. Be mindful that the paths are quite steep. A high level of fitness will be required if you want to explore deep into the gardens.
The Burnham Beeches Estate was named after the English National Forest of Beech trees in the county of Buckinghamshire, near where Nicholas’s United Kingdom Aspro factory was located.
Norris’s design was for a three-storey mansion in the Art Deco style, which was completed in 1933. The lines are said to be reminiscent of an ocean liner. The zig-zag motif was used as decoration on the decorative wrought-iron work and the balcony balustrades. The exterior of the house was of reinforced concrete, painted white.
The house has had a number of owners during the years. In 1941, during World War II, the house was loaned as a children’s hospital. After the war from 1948 -1950 it was redecorated by Nicholas’s widow who lived there on and off for several years before moving to their Toorak house in Melbourne in 1954. The house has been used as a hotel a research facility in the 1950’s, with new extensions added to it in the 1950’s and 1980’s.
The Estate was most recently purchased in 2010, and is currently in the process of being upgraded and refurbished to modern standards.
Alfred Nicholas Gardens
- Moderate to high level of fitness required
- Toilet facilities available
- Great for picnics
- Great photo opportunities
- Dogs allowed
1A Sherbrooke Road
Daily operating hours:
10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily
Car parking is available directly opposite the garden entrance.
The garden may close during dangerous weather conditions, high fire risk. Check current conditions on the day of your planned visit to confirm it is open.