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Yan Yean

(3755, 30 km N, Whittlesea City, Nillumbik Shire)

Yan Yean lies in the Plenty Valley north of Melbourne. John Bear purchased significant acreage in the Parish of Yan Yean in 1842. A fortified cob structure known as Bear's Castle was erected around 1844-45, the oldest structure in the City of Whittlesea, and now within the Yan Yean Reservoir reserve. No trace remains of the 40 acres (16 ha) of vines Bear planted on his Castle Hill vineyard on the western ridge of the reservoir by 1891. To provide Melbourne with an adequate, clean water supply, engineer James Blackburn devised the Yan Yean scheme requiring the construction (1853-57) of what is now Victoria's oldest reservoir, with water piped to Melbourne. The enclosure, forced acquisition and preservation of large tracts of land as catchment reserve ended further subdivision for settlement. For a prolonged period a local hotel served visitors to the reservoir. The population of the area fell and 150 years later it remains essentially rural.

Gwynedd Hunter-Payne