Alistair Walsh | 6 November 2012

Department of Defence selling 1860s Fortuna Villa in Bendigo

An 1860s grand estate in Bendigo has been listed for the first time in 70 years.

Fortuna Villa is being sold by the Department of Defence with $3 million expectations.

The three-storey Italianate-style mansion with 30 bedrooms was once owned by quartz king, George Lansell.

The mining entrepreneur was the director of 38 mines and had links to almost every mine in Bendigo.

He struck fortune with his purchase of the 180 mine, part of the New Chum Reef.

He remodelled the mansion in the late 1880 which was lavishly furnished with pieces collected from around the globe. He designed the spacious gardens with walks, lakes and imported plants.

He bought the property in 1871 from Theodore Ballerstedt, a mine operator who bought the site in 1857 from the Crown.

The Villa is built in a number of architectural styles - Victorian Italianate and Victorian Free Classical, with Federation influences.

The heritage listed rendered brick construction comes with seven bathrooms, cast-iron verandahs, a billiard room, a ballroom, a conservatory, a reception room and entrance hall.

It has a stained glass, cedar and blackwood staircase, a solid marble bath, extensive acid-etched glasswork.

The villa comes on 7.57 hectares and has 32 outbuildings. The Victorian gardens include a roman bath and a Pompeii fountain. There is also a tennis court, coach house and a large lake on the property.  The lake was previously a tailings pond.

The Department of Defence occupied the site from 1942 and in 1957 it was compulsorily acquired for Army use. Since then the site has been occupied by the Army and other Defence organisations. Most recently it has been the home of the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation.

The department of defence built a number of modern buildings on the property including a mess hall, stores and accommodation.

The property is being sold by public tender ending December 7.

An environmental survey of the property shows some soil contamination from previous mining activities and defence activities.

The report says that any buyer looking to build on the land would be required to undertake measures to avoid contamination.

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