HISTORY buffs will walk in the footsteps of the "unsung hero" who laid out Bendigo when Open House Weekend takes place in a fortnight.
The walking tours will uncover the work of Richard Larritt, the surveyor whose largely forgotten legacy was to pave the way for the CBD we know today, Bendigo Walking Tours manager Jill Hanlon said.
"He also set aside space for Rosalind Park, saying it was flood-prone and never to be built on. If he hadn't of said that there would have been a Starbucks and multitude of houses there," she said.
Larritt laid out the CBD grid with deliberately large lots so that architects like the celebrated William Vahland could "really go to town", tour guide Peter Hargreaves said.
"If they had been just little allotments, how would you gift something grand like the town hall?" he asked.
Instead, Bendigo became famous for boom style architecture on big lots with wide, sweeping streets, Mr Hargreaves said.
Click on the map for a closer look.
"So the talk is partly about him, partly about patterns of settlement, housing and architecture," he said.
Larritt was among those arriving at the goldfields in 1854 and had the flamboyance needed to do something extraordinary, Ms Hanlon said.
Bendigo is believed to have been among the first towns he laid out from scratch.
"He got a job with the surveyor's department operating out of Melbourne. We think he trained under Robert Hoddle, who surveyed Melbourne, then worked closely with one of his successors," Mr Hargreaves said.
Larritt likely never anticipated the town would grow to what it is today, Mr Hargreaves said.
"That's the extraordinary part. He was envisaging all this only three years after the start of the gold rush.
"No-one knew how much gold was here and yet he was designing something quite grand, with curving boulevards, some really broad streets and a marketplace with a focal point for the town hall."
The Open House tours start at 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm on both days of Open Houses Bendigo and will take one hour.
Bendigo Walking Tours will also showcase the life and triumphs of William Vahland will be showcased during the weekend with customised walking tours.
It is hard to find someone who has had such an influence on the look and feel of their hometown as William Vahland, Ms Hanlon said.
"Vahland designed some of our most magnificent public and private buildings like the Capital Theatre, the former Masonic Lodge and the Town Hall along with some of our most stately, elegant houses."
Vahland arrived in Bendigo in 1856 and set up an architects office a few years later.
"We will be showcasing a selection of Vahland masterpieces that highlight the range and breadth of his work from hotels to churches, theatres, halls and mansions.
"We'll also discuss Vahland's enormous contribution to the community and his role in making home ownership a reality for thousands of mining and working class families."
The celebrating Vahland tour starts at 2.30pm both days of the festival. Tours will take one hour.
Bookings for that and the Larritt tour are essential.
For more information call 1800 813 153 or get online and visit openhousebendigo.com.au
Open House Bendigo throws open the doors to buildings both historical and contemporary in a celebration of architecture and takes place on 26 and 27 October.
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