People and Places
Pure passion for animal welfare By Andrea Kellett

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First she gave us Wombat – the Mornington Peninsula’s first 100 per cent vegan café and store in Dromana. Now Rebecca Ettridge has opened an animal rescue sanctuary and she’s using proceeds from her landmark cruelty-free business to fund it.

When customers tuck into anything from the menu at Wombat Café & Store, they are helping save animals from death row. It’s a unique, feel-good vibe around here. Rebecca’s 32ha sanctuary in regional Victoria is called Plumfield Farm.

A couple of  years ago, walking her rescue lamb Albie and three dogs past a vacant shop front on Boundary Rd, wondering what was to come, this café owner who, along with her mother, Shelle Hepburn, founded and later sold Wild Yam Health Food Store in Mordialloc, was inspired. “People really connected with Albie in the park, and as a vegan I thought to myself I want to have even more of an impact. I decided to create the Peninsula’s first vegan café – against the advice of many of my friends. People said the Peninsula wasn’t ready for it and said Dromana was the wrong location, especially Boundary Rd where you’re off the main road and away from the highway action.”

So Rebecca did what she does best – she took the well-meaning advice on board and went against it. “I love being told that I can’t or shouldn’t do something,” she smiled.

Now well into her second year, Rebecca employs an all-vegan team of 11 and Wombat Café & Store is thriving. She stumbled on the “dream” farm last year amid the chaos of building the new business and went for it. She has 34 sheep and a family of cows, pigs, horses and chickens, all given a second chance at life.

Rebecca has also contributed to a ground-breaking new animal rights documentary, released last month, titled Dominion. “I think this is going to be a game changer in terms of animal rights. People watch footage of animal cruelty and think it’s happening elsewhere, but this is Australian footage.”

And, to set the record straight, the business name Wombat has nothing to do with the animal. “Wombat is actually the name of my favourite mountain bike trail, which is right across the road.”

For more on Plumfield Farm, check out Wombat Cafe on Instagram. There’s now a second 100 per cent vegan cafe on the Mornington Peninsula with a third due to open shortly. It seems the wave has begun.


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