After the 1848 revolution, Eugène Dominique Nicolle (1823 – 1909) came to Australia to pursue his career as an engineer. Arriving in Sydney in 1853 with his first wife, Nicolle registered his initial patent for an ice-making machine jointly with Richard Dawson in 1861.
Nicolle eventually secured the financial backing of Thomas Sutcliffe Mort for his experiments, which were often conducted at the Nicolle family home in Burwood, NSW. Although Nicolle and Mort were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to ship frozen meat overseas, they were awarded a gold medal at the 1874 Metropolitan Exhibition for their refrigerating machines.
Together with the Wilkinson brothers, they bought the Sydney Ice Company (subsequently renamed the NSW Ice Company) and began making ice with Nicolle’s machine in 1863. With his partners, Nicolle designed and built a variety of cooling apparatus for both domestic and industrial use. They demonstrated that it was both possible and safe to freeze food for long periods and then thaw it for human consumption.