Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens is a fairly small picturesque park with a fascinating history, located in Sherbrooke within the Dandenong Ranges. It is the perfect location for a brief stroll or to stay and admire the beauty of the gardens.
The gardens are actually part of the Burnham Beeches Estate which was bought by Alfred Nicholas (known for developing the Aspro painkiller) in 1929. The building can be seen from the gardens and it is recognised for its Art Deco features and similarity to an ocean liner. There are signs within the garden for those interested, which explains the history of the site and the different uses of the Estate.
The drive to the gardens itself is stunning and well worth it to explore the surrounding area. Watch for the cyclists on the roads which can be quite slippery in wet weather. The car park is located opposite the gardens or you can park next door at the recently developed Piggery Café. The convenient café itself provides an excellent lunch menu and lively atmosphere.
Exploring the gardens takes you under a canopy of enormous trees, past colourful flowerbeds and down to an ornamental lake and boathouse. The gardens are lovely to see all year round however in spring the gardens are really blooming with cherry trees, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and kalmias. Other plants to look out for are the maple and beech trees, orchids, golden ginkgo trees and native ferns.
The gardens are a maze of sloping paths and steps which lead down into the valley. Perhaps a more difficult garden to navigate for a person of limited mobility, due to the slope of the paths and the number of stairs. Hand-rails are provided on a number of paths.
The gardens may not be as highly maintained as some are used to however, the dedication that has gone into the gardens to restore them to their former glory is to be commended. The gardens are still being worked on and it is not unusual to see Parks Victoria staff working on the gardens.
The site was purchased in 2010, by entrepreneurs Shannon Bennett and Adam Garrison, who will continue to upgrade and refurbish the estate. The Piggery Café has been part of their vision, along with plans for a hotel, steakhouse and brewery. The previously small and quiet location is set to become more visible and increase the amount of tourism.
The gardens are open every day from 10am to 5pm, but occasionally closed for maintenance or on bush-fire threat days. Dogs can be walked on a leash and there are toilet facilities.