Cafe feather in Pingrup's hat

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

As the saying goes, blink and you might miss it.

Just a spot on the GPS, Pingrup is a little Wheatbelt town that some say is punching way above its weight for innovative business and community ideas.

Well known for its race day event in March every year, Pingrup does not let its small town status affect its go-get-'em attitude.

A recently unveiled cafe in a once derelict building is adding to the array of reasons to stop in this tiny town.

The aptly named Bird in the Bush & Co, run by local businesswoman Kate Furphy, is a sparkling gem in a sea of open paddocks, endless roads and salt lakes.

According to the local Community Resource Centre, the town of Pingrup has only 85 residents, but stop at Bird in the Bush & Co on any day of the week and you are likely to find a thriving hub of activity.

With a trained chef enticed from Albany and a menu to rival any cafe in the metropolitan area, it's not surprising this business has been so welcomed by locals.

According to Mrs Furphy, who is also a partner in her family's 5000ha cropping business and the manager of her own farm recruitment agency, the cafe has been overwhelmingly supported by residents and passing traffic.

"I said to my staff, don't be surprised if we don't get anyone through the door for ages, but know no matter what, this is going to work," she said.

"But I shouldn't have worried because it's been really popular already, and that's such a thrill."

Mrs Furphy said because Pingrup was on the main thoroughfare between Albany and Wave Rock, it had quite a bit of through traffic.

"In fact, I realised how much passing traffic we actually had when I was renovating the cafe," she said.

Bird in the Bush & Co serves pizza on a Thursday, brunch on a Sunday and everything in between during the week.

It caters for functions and also includes a gift and clothing shop and a consulting room for visiting businesses.

Mrs Furphy said top quality service and produce was the driving force behind the cafe.

"The food is really top notch because I'm of the view that just because we live in the bush doesn't mean we should go without quality," she said.

Mrs Furphy said another of her motivations for the cafe was simply to provide a service to her local community.

"I wanted to give something to the community," she said. "My kids are going to grow up here, and I want this place to survive and thrive.

"Its is tough living out here, especially if you haven't grown up in the bush."

Mrs Furphy said she wanted to create a place where people could walk in, sit down and have a coffee and escape the humdrum of life, even for just a moment.

"I also hope that this business inspires others in small country towns to invest in their communities," she said.

Perhaps this Bird is on to something.

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