Community cafe the heart of Wellstead

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser

The friendly volunteer-run cafe at the Wellstead Community Resource Centre is the beating heart of the small community east of Albany.

While some may say the Whisper Coffee Shop is in the middle of nowhere, a popular tourist route brings thousands of people through the town.

Not only providing a hub for locals, the funds go straight to the CRC so the dozens of activities, workshops and facilities it provides continue to run.

Since coming into operation, it has become an integral part of the community, run by volunteers like Rowena Stanich.

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Being a mum of two in a rural town can bring its challenges, where she said having the cafe could help greatly with the mental effects of isolation.

“With the weather conditions last year (Stirling Ranges fire, wind damage to pastoral land and one of the driest years on record) the Whisper Coffee Shop gave some locals the opportunity to volunteer and have a sense of belonging in the community; despite the horrid start to the season for primary producers and the effect it had on small businesses,” she said.

“The coffee shop has attracted the playgroup mums of a Wednesday, which is lovely to see them supporting one another — even if it means one mum rocking your babe in the pram so you can actually finish your coffee or cuppa whilst it’s still warm.

“The Whisper Coffee Shop soon attracted a small group of women, willingly baking and dropping off their delicious cakes or volunteering their time learning a new skill as a Barista.” The cafe typically sees anywhere between 30 and 40 people visit each morning.

Ms Stanich said the idea began two years ago when locals Deb Dupe and Julieann Maisey had the idea of using the empty space at the CRC building and running a coffee shop.

Sickness struck one of the ladies and it did not reopen until July last year under the wings of Candice Smith, a qualified chef and local mum of three.

Wellstead CRC co-ordinator Steph Boyd said from there it had evolved with the contribution of many community members.

“The coffee shop demonstrates how little funding can be leveraged to assist community create their own solutions and it provides a platform for community and tourists to interact: local homemade products are sold and tourist insights gained.

“There's lots of retired, travelling professionals eager to share ideas, life lessons and stories.”

One of the visitors to the small community was tourist Tia Calvo, who was so inspired by the cafe that she decided to stay around for three days and create a video, which many have seen on Facebook, which now has over 45,000 views.

There’s uncertainty among CRCs all over the State with the future of these vital hubs in some doubt.

This is due to the fact the current Department of Primary Resources and Development contract expires in March, 2020.

Whisper Coffee Shop is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9am-noon.

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