Among the many parks and villages of the Dandenong Ranges, the Alfred Nicholas Gardens is a hidden gem that is a pleasure to explore all year round. Containing many walking paths and picnic areas, the gardens are an ideal place to spend some quiet time away from the city.
The gardens were once part of the historic Burnham Beeches Estate before being donated to the public, but retains a sense of privacy and calm. The entrance gates are located on Sherbrooke Road, just a short distance from Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, with the visitors car park located conveniently across the road. Open daily from 10am to 5pm, visitors are asked to make a donation before entering the grounds.
In spring the gardens come alive with flowers, in particular rhododendrons and camellias which are planted along the paths. A walk down through the towering mountain ash trees will take you to the picturesque lake and boathouse, a perfect spot in which to take a breather. The lake is complete with flowering cherry blossom trees in spring and vibrant foliage in autumn. Kids will find it fun to explore the small island in the centre of the lake, which can be reached by connecting footbridges.
Other features include the rotunda, a convenient location for a picnic. There's plenty to explore within the 12 hectare gardens and it's easy to spend an afternoon lost in the natural surroundings and wildlife. Just a short drive from the gardens is the quaint village town of Olinda, where a drink is sure to top off a relaxing day.