Bears Castle

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A photo of Bears Castle, shot while on a guided tour in November 2009.

Bears Castle is a small faux castle (fortified homestead) in Yan Yean, Victoria, Australia.

The castle was a cob construction from mud and clay with planks of timber in-between the layer of cob with a stone base for foundations. Large tree timbers providing form for the windows (inverted tree forks), and straight trunks provide support for the first floor,[1] it was constructed in about 1846 by two men named Hannaford and Edwards, each of whom had recently arrived from Devon, England where cob was a common building technique were engaged to build the castle. It was built for the pastoralist John Bear; the castle is approximately 12 square metres in area, and has parapets and turrets on each corner.

The castle served as a temporary residence for Thomas Bear's farm manager, Joseph Owen and family from about 1865. Thomas was John Bears son.

Some theories about the reason the castle was created include:

  • providing a bolt hole in case of attack - John Bear's wife had been held up by the Plenty bushrangers in 1842 and John was often absent on business;
  • a lookout, as it is on the top of a rise and the land had been cleared of trees which gave a good view over the Plenty River Valley;
  • refuge from bushfires;
  • providing protection from the weather for shepherds.
Bear's Castle, Lookout Castle Hill Yan Yean c1870

In about 1900 the parapets and a castellated tower topping a corner turret were removed. In the 1970s the walls were rendered with chicken wire and mud to protect the building against decay; the earier walls can be seen in the circa 1870 picture which includes 5 of Thomas Bear's children. The Yan Yean Reservoir can be seen in the background.

The castle was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 1998.[2]

As the castle is in a protected water catchment area for Melbourne, access is restricted; the Whittlesea Historical Society has at times arranged a guided visit to the site. These are infrequent and may occur once a year.

The castle has 2 storeys however there is no flooring on the second storey.


  1. ^ Mann, Lindsay. The Plenty Bushrangers of 1842: the first Europeans hanged in Victoria.
  2. ^ "Bears Castle, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H1420, Heritage Overlay HO43". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 28 March 2011.


Coordinates: 37°32′18″S 145°8′6″E / 37.53833°S 145.13500°E / -37.53833; 145.13500

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