IN the pretty riverside town of Surat, a small group of mothers and toddlers sit laughing in the shade of a porch.
The smell of freshly ground coffee beans and newly cut timber hangs in the air as the ladies happily share pieces of jam-smeared scones with babies strapped into prams and toddlers perched on the edge of their bench seats.
The mothers have driven into Surat from outlying properties to participate in the Day for Daniel - an annual event to honour murdered teenager Daniel Morcombe - and are now enjoying coffee at their new digs, The Timber Crate.
It's a scene you're more likely to find in inner-city Brisbane or the hinterland regions of the south-east, but thanks to the hard work of two young and ambitious local ladies, the 450 people living in the Surat district now have a trendy cafe and homewares store of their own.
It took The Timber Crate owners, Ali Rollinson and Sian Hardie, plenty of hard work to bring the rustic shop front up to scratch for opening day in early August this year.
The pair also spent months researching their idea to open Surat's first boutique coffee shop, and say the close-knit local community and the large number of visitors who come to camp on the banks of the nearby Balonne all helped to create a strong business case.
"We both had a drive to do something that wasn't based on the farm, and we could see a real need for a nice place in Surat where we and our friends could go when we were in town," Sian said.
"We were also often having family come out to stay, and short of driving to St George or Roma, there was nowhere to take them for a coffee.
"Now we get a lot of people driving down to Surat for the day to have a coffee and a browse around the town."
Originally from the Gold Coast, Ali Rollinson moved to the Surat district three years ago to be closer to her now husband, Dan.
The couple live on Oaklyn, a grain property just outside Surat, and Ali initially worked in the local gas industry before leaving to pursue The Timber Crate.
Ali and Dan had previously known Sian Hardie and her husband Christopher before the Hardies moved to the Surat district to manage an AACo property in February.
Sian, who is expecting their first child in January, said opening The Timber Crate had unexpectedly been a great way to meet the locals.
"We have been surprised by how social the shop is," she said.
"Being new to the area, it was a great way for me to meet everyone and get to know people better."
The girls have indulged their love of timber throughout the cafe and went to extra effort to have timber furniture and kitchen bench tops made out of local cypress pine.
"We did a lot of work in the building, but we really didn't change it that much because we wanted to keep that rustic feel," Ali said.
"We kept the original floor boards and tried to work in with the building as much as possible."
With a traditional butcher shop opposite The Timber Crate and the Cobb and Co Museum, aquarium, library and art gallery on a nearby corner, Ali said there was now a distinct old-world feel to the town that captivated visitors.
"Tourists walk over the bridge from the riverside camping area and wander through town looking at the original post office building and the butcher across the road. You see them taking pictures of the old buildings. We're lucky to have that kind of atmosphere in town.
"The council looks after the streets really well and we are finding that most of the travellers who are staying in the camping area are coming through our door, which is great.
"Of course we also have our regulars. There is a really strong and social group of young mothers who use the coffee shop regularly as somewhere to catch up."
The girls also say their policy of only trying to stock homewares that can't be found in nearby towns appeared to be paying off.
They have expanded to include a deli range and say the boutique teas and tiny pots of relish are a hit with travellers limited by space.
The girls bake their own food and say there had been plenty of requests for an expanded menu.
"We would love to increase the food side of the business to maybe do lunches or breakfasts, so that's something we might look at," Sian said. "For now we are just trying to make sure that we source stock that is good quality - that people want but that is still a bit unique."