STUNNING: One of the many remarkable gold rush buildings in Bendigo, is the quartz king’s Fortuna Villa. Fortuna Villa is one of those very few properties in Australia which is fit for a king.
Because this historic mansion was indeed built for a king.
In a city strewn with remarkable gold rush buildings, Fortuna Villa is truly a Bendigo landmark and it’s back on the market again.
Built to overlook the city from Victoria Hill, the building is an immediate reminder of that period when Bendigo was the richest place on the planet.
But Bendigo’s wealth would likely not have been revealed without the drive of people like “quartz king” George Lansell.
And yes, Fortuna Villa was the mansion he created to display many of those riches.
The first fossickers collected nuggets like fat plums from the Bendigo Creek but when all the alluvial gold was picked clean, and all the gravel washed, the miners had to follow the quartz seams deep underground, and that’s where Lansell came in. George was born in England in 1823 and arrived in Bendigo with his brother in 1853 and opened a successful butchery, soap and candle factory – his family’s trade.
He later became interested in deep reef mining through the introduction of diamond drills and, despite many setbacks, with his eventual success he was in hot demand.
He struck fortune with his purchase of the 180 mine, part of the New Chum Reef when he dug even deeper to discover lode after lode.
He became director of 38 mines and at one stage had links to almost every mine in Bendigo.
It was once estimated gold worth about $10 billion in today’s values was pulled from the Victoria Hill diggings by people like Lansell.
Fortuna was built in the shadow of that fabulous mine in the 1850s by Christopher Ballerstedt, and was in 1871 bought by Lansell for 20,000 pounds.
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