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Situated on the gorgeous Sherbrooke Road in the Dandenong Ranges, the Burnham Beeches Estate is home to the stunning and highly regarded Alfred Nicholas Gardens.
Synonymous with the Dandenong Ranges, The Alfred Nicholas Gardens are known for their picturesque waterfalls, water features and its iconic ornamental lake and boathouse.
Alfred Nicholas and his brother George developed the Aspro painkiller formula, becoming the first person to officially patent the formula after it was lost from general use after the First World War. He purchased the land in 1929 and proceeded to purchase subsequent land around it, extending the size of the property to 13 acres. The Burnham Beeches Estate is an Art Deco masterpiece, designed for Nicholas in the early thirties, and is somewhat likened to the lines of an ocean liner.
Nicholas 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 ornamental designs. He hired an expert gardener to help with the creation of his prized garden.
The gardens were not finished before his death in 1937, although the majority of the planting had been finished. This then left his widow alone to look after the property, resulting in the garden falling into a state of deterioration.
The property has a long history of patronage and has gone through many phases and changes of ownership, including being a hotel, a Children’s Hospital in the early 1940s, a research facility in the 1950s, with new extensions added to it in both the 1950s and 1980s.
After the property fell into a state of disrepair and became unused from the early 1990s, the Estate was purchased in 2010 to be upgraded and refurbished to modern standards.
The gardens itself are now owned and operated by Parks Victoria. Significant restorations were undertaken in the late 1990s, transforming and recreating the spectacular location that has become the Alfred Nicholas gardens that we know today.
A variety of native birds may be seen in the gardens including king parrots and colourful rosellas. There are ducks in the lake and kookaburras can often be heard in the treetops. There is a blend of native and exotic trees including mountain ash, ginkgoes, maples and liquid ambers. Colour is provided throughout the year by a variety of flowering exotic shrubs, bulbs and trees.