Historical information

Bear's Castle was constructed in Yan Yean circa 1846 probably by two men, Hannaford and Edwards, who had recently arrived separately from Devon, England. It was built for John Bear an early pastoralist who had migrated from England with his family in 1841. Bear's Lookout (or Bear's Folly as it is also known), is a small, two storey structure roughly square in plan and occupying an area of less than 12 square metres. It is built of mud/clay - a common primitive building material apparently used extensively in the Whittlesea area and utilises a technique known as cob, popular in the builders' home town of Devon. Cob is a walling construction method using clay, straw, gravel and sand. The building was constructed to resemble a castle the result, it would seem, of a cursory remark by John Bear with a pyramid shaped roof and turrets at each corner - one with a stair and another in brick and stone with a chimney. Despite its name, it would appear that the building was never used as a retreat from danger although it might well have been used as a lookout for the monitoring of livestock or forest fires.


The negative depicts Bear's Castle which is historically significant because of its early, pre- gold rush construction date and its association with notable pioneering pastoralists, the Bear family. The Bears were responsible for establishing one of Victoria's earliest wineries (at Yan Yean) and are associated with Chateau Tahbilk, reputedly Victoria's oldest extant winery.

Physical description

Rectangular glass plate negative showing eight men and a dog standing in front of Bear's Castle at Yan Yean