Bendigo's Fortuna Villa fails to sell

FORTUNA Villa has failed to sell. 

The three-storey, 60-room mansion was for sale by tender by the Department of Defence. 

But the six tenders for the historic 1850s home failed to meet requirements and the sale will not go ahead. 

The Department of Defence will explore other options and wants to restart the sale process this year and finalise the sale by the end of the financial year. 

Three tenders for the property, previously valued about $3 million, were received after the December 7 noon deadline and were not opened or assessed. 

Local groups opposed to the sale on heritage grounds and likely removal of the property from public ownership welcomed the news. “It is good news in a lot of ways... it gives the community organisations more time to ensure the protection of the site,” Villa Fortuna Action Group president Merle Hall said. 

“It gives us the chance to encourage some renegotiations about community access.”

Ms Hall said Fortuna was of international significance and probably the most important example of the value of gold in 19th century Australia. 

Bendigo Historical Society president Jim Evans said local groups had argued for public ownership and community access to the site. 

“It’s a real Bendigo icon and it’s important it stays as such,” he said. 

“Perhaps this will reawaken interest in local people and perhaps the state government. 

“It might give them more time to reconsider the situation.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Defence said there were no formal heritage protections on the title, but the contract of sale required adherence to a Heritage Management Plan. 

Fortuna is listed on four heritage registers and schedules.

The property was described in an information pack as “an amazing representation of the wealth generated during the gold rush in Victoria” with two conservatories, a billiard room, Roman baths and several dining rooms set among lush surrounds.

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