Birkdale's goat lady Isabella Alcock, long-time resident of Willard's farm, dies aged 84

TRIBUTE: Cr Paul Bishop has paid tribute to Birkdale's goat lady Isabella Alcock, who was also known locally as Ann Porter.

TRIBUTE: Cr Paul Bishop has paid tribute to Birkdale's goat lady Isabella Alcock, who was also known locally as Ann Porter.

LONG-TIME resident of Willard's estate at Birkdale, Isabella Alcock - known locally as Ann Porter and to many as the goat lady - has died at 84.

Ms Alcock lived as a squatter on the Old Cleveland Road land for 61 years. She cared for cattle, sheep and dairy cows in large paddocks but was known for the goats that lived near the road.

Redland City councillor Paul Bishop, who spent many hours interviewing Ms Alcock, said she had lived alone much of her life without modern technology and continued animal husbandry, single-handedly managing the land as other Europeans had done 150 years before.

"Born in Carlton, Victoria (on April 3, 1935) few people knew her mother had been a librarian in Brighton, Victoria before leaving Isabella's dad and coming to Queensland's Glasshouse Mountains where Isabella went to school near Tibrogargan," Cr Bishop said. "Then they moved to Camp Mountain before arriving in Birkdale."

Cr Bishop said Ms Alcock, her mother and grandmother - who lived in tin sheds, a caravan and a hut on the Birkdale land - were victims of violence, swindling and harsh economic decisions that left them homeless and penniless but made them resilient enough to survive.

HISTORY: Isabella Alcock with members of the Birkdale/Thorneside Community History Project, a citizen led process in 2016-17 that captured local oral histories and the people who make the place significant.

HISTORY: Isabella Alcock with members of the Birkdale/Thorneside Community History Project, a citizen led process in 2016-17 that captured local oral histories and the people who make the place significant.

"Because of their survival spirit against all the harsh odds (chauvinism, sexism, elitism) they lived, survived and to some extent thrived in the margins on that block of land for over 60 years," Cr Bishop said.

The trio began life in the Redlands on a piggery near Finucane Road. Cr Bishop said Ms Alcock said a man that her mother "shacked up with" and his mates swindled the three out of a deal to buy a house.

"This left the three ladies homeless and needing to find a livelihood," he said.

AWARD: Isabella Alcock in 2016 when she was presented with her Redland City Council and Blue Care Inspiring Senior award for division 10.

AWARD: Isabella Alcock in 2016 when she was presented with her Redland City Council and Blue Care Inspiring Senior award for division 10.

They asked the owner of the Birkdale land - then Doug Cotton - if they could agist their 10 dairy cows. The land was known for being used by the United States as a radio telecommunications receiving station.

By 1953 - when the relationship between the women and Mr Cotton who lived in Brisbane broke down - the women had moved onto an unused paddock on the property where their cattle grazed.

A court battle ensued when Mr Cotton wanted his land back but the government had a stake because radio equipment on the site was being used to police airwaves and monitor criminal activity.

"As the judgement day in court got closer, Mr Cotton was asked to prove that he had continued to use his land or the government was going to resume it from underneath him," Cr Bishop said.

Isabella's mother refused Mr Cotton's request to sign a form, saying the cattle they were tending were his.

The women told the government what was going on and the court awarded Mr Cotton costs for the resumption of his land and gave the Alcock's a lease.

"So not only did Isabella single-handedly manage the land and mend the fences and look after the trespassers, she was also the reason the land was not developed into housing like all the surrounding areas," Cr Bishop said.

Paul Bishop with Isabella Alcock at Ormiston House.

Paul Bishop with Isabella Alcock at Ormiston House.

"The goat lady of Birkdale serves as a reminder of our historic human connection to land that existed at a very different pace to modern life."

Ms Alcock moved from the property after a fall and heart attack in June 2014.

She died on September 27 and had no surviving relatives.

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