Fortuna Villa on Victorian heritage list

FORTUNA Villa has been added to the Victorian Heritage Register. 

The Bendigo property is is one of the largest private houses built in the state and was erected by some of Australia’s wealthiest gold magnates of the 19th century.

Fortuna has a number of features which are rare in Victoria. - Daryl Jackson

“Fortuna is an outstanding demonstration of the wealth and prosperity of Bendigo and Victoria during the gold rush period,” Heritage Council of Victoria chair Daryl Jackson said. 

“Fortuna has a number of features which are rare in Victoria. 

"It was rare for such a lavish house to be built so close to the industrial works that were source of the wealth that created it. 

"The survival of a 19th century villa estate, with a grand house surrounded by its original garden, is also unusual in an urban setting.” 

Owner Paul Banks said it was great that Fortuna Villa had been heritage listed.

"It's all about the upkeep of the villa," Mr Banks said.

"Basically from day dot we have treated this property as heritage listed."

"You don’t want to be rebuilding, you want to be maintaining (the property) and we have already started that.

Mr Banks said he planned to develop Fortuna and open it to the public with a cafe, a shop, tours and (eventually) weddings and as a hotel.

"It will all be done with no construction, just what is there," he said.

"It will be done with paint, beautifcation and restoration.

"You need to remember that 300 soldiers used to eat there so the facilities are there."

Fortuna Villa was the dream home of two of Australia’s wealthiest gold mining families. 

Christopher and Theodore Ballerstedt were some of the earliest successful reef miners on the Bendigo goldfields. They bought the Fortuna site and built a quartz-crushing mill and a home.

The property was then sold to George Lansell, who transformed the property with the help of prominent architects to reflect his passion for Roman history and European taste. 

After the death of Lansell, the property acquired by the Commonwealth as the headquarters of the Australian Survey Corps. It was used until 1996.

Mr Banks purchased Fortuna earlier this year.

Estate recognised for history

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