Miss Kate Hutton: Outer Harbor’s ‘Goat Lady’
Motorists travelling to Outer Harbor in the 1940s and 1950s would invariably have to contend with a horde of livestock across the roadway near Taperoo. This odd impediment and hindrance to free passage was Kate Hutton’s substantial goat herd.
Miss Hutton lived in a small red house made of galvanised iron, behind Lady Gowrie Drive, near the current entrance to the North Haven marina. Kate and her brother Charles came to Australia from Scotland in the early 1900s. It is unclear when she set up her goat farm on the Le Fevre Peninsula, but she struggled on with her harsh life, tending her animals for more than twenty years.
Kate was a short, stooped woman of slight build and wore her hair in a grey bun. Almost every day she could be seen wearing the same cardigan and dress, Wellington boots and a chaff bag for an apron. She nearly always ambled along with the assistance of a wooden staff. Those who knew her well described her as a kindly soul with brown, leathery skin, a result of years doing battle with the elements. Her basic little abode had no electricity or running water and no close neighbours. When the wind whipped up off the sea and over the sand hills, the box-thorn bushes beside her walls would screech back and forth over the ironwork, creating an eerie sound.
Miss Hutton and her beloved goats were often the focus of controversy. It is said that she used her rich Scottish accent to sway those who she saw as being out to get rid of her goat farm and considerable animal herd. But to the many tourists who passed nearby the assortment of goats was a great delight; to stop and feed the swarming creatures scraps of bread, or almost anything at all that could be considered ‘edible’.
It was said that Kate would often sell her young goats to passing crew members from the many P&O ships that called in at Outer Harbor. The small sums she received in payment helped to make ends meet as she struggled to subsist with basic means.
In the 1960s, the goat farm disappeared: a victim of creeping urban development. But Kate Hutton, the ‘goat lady’, remained as a truly memorable character to all those who had regularly passed by her farm, or stopped to feed her constantly hungry and friendly herd of goats.