By Parker McKenzie
Located in the picturesque settlement of Sherbrooke and surrounded by the rainforest of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the beautifully serene Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens is areas open to the public year-round for picnics, walks and milling about.
Named after merchant and philanthropist Alfred Michael Nicholas, the gardens were once part of the famous Burnham Beeches property.
Nicholas, after making his money making and selling aspirin in Australia, was renowned for giving away gifts to the public, and making large donations to colleges, hospitals and universities throughout Australia.
By 1934, Nicholas had stepped away from his successful business and instead focused on horticulture and agriculture. He established a garden at the large mansion he built at Burnham Beeches in Sherbrooke, along with several other gardens around Australia.
He hired 60 workers to clear the land and had 150 trees shipped from England to the gardens after attending the Chelsea Flower Show.
The gardens weren’t finished before Nicholas died at Burnham Beeches on 26 February 1937, when his massive estate was valued at over 800,000 pounds, over $14.8 million AUD in value today.
The garden he built, renamed the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, was donated to the Shire of Sherbrooke in 1965 before being transferred to the Forest Commission of Victoria in 1973.
According to Parks Victoria, it is “renowned for its extensive water Features.”
“Delightful all year round, choose your own adventure along the many linking paths beneath the canopy of the Mountain Ash trees as you stroll through the garden,” Parks Victoria said.
“Make your way down to the picturesque lake for a picnic by the quaint boathouse, take a seat at the gazebo and admire the intriguing sculpture by Mark Stoner, or simply enjoy walking your dog (on lead) through the changing landscape of blooms and foliage.”
The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens is open 10am to 5pm every day except Christmas Day or on total fire ban days, severe weather events or major works. It is located at 1A Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke.