Matt is the creator of the very magical space known as The Front Room in Hervey Bay, Queensland.
Once you emerge through the wooden doors, you’ll find a bright, communal space filled with specialty coffee, organic food, and staff that welcome you like family. Matt describes the cafe as “the coolest place in town”. And with their recent addition of air-conditioning, that’s a very fitting statement.
But how Matt got here, is the story I want to tell you.
As we each crack a beer from Burleigh Brewing Company, Matt pulls out a Christmas present he received from a friend a few years ago. A book displaying his handcrafted cigar-box guitar, photographed in multiple locations along the East Coast of Australia.
“I saw one on the internet one day, a cigar box guitar, they’re a bit of a thing, look it up!”
“I was thinking to myself ‘holy s*** I love the look of these things, visually they’re beautiful!'”
Displayed in his book is an old Montecristo cigar box guitar with its stickers scratched off to create an aged look. Matt calls this particular guitar, the best he’s ever made.
“They’re easy to make but for them to be of high quality takes a bit of practice”
You see, creating cigar-box guitars played an integral part into where Matt is today. It all started from an admiration of the building we’re currently in.
Eight years ago, when Matt first started making these guitars, he met Jaesh, a local fellow in Hervey Bay, who was renting out this building.
“The very first time I came in here, I remember thinking how beautiful it was!”
Soon after meeting Jaesh, Matt gave away almost everything he owned.
“A bag of clothes, a bag of tools, a one-way ticket to Nimbin, and a guitar to sell so I could afford to eat”
Before getting to Nimbin, Matt arrived on the Gold Coast with eight dollars to his name, a loaf of bread and a bunch of kale.
“The bread was spelt though, so I was doing okay!”
After scoring a contract with the well-known music store Threeworlds, on the Gold Coast, Matt never made it to Nimbin.
“I was only just getting by until I had enough money to get a share house with space for me to create the guitars”
As Matt talks, I can see the memories pass in front of him.
“God this stuff feels like a lifetime ago, but the last guitar I made was for a sound healer about four years ago”
“I made probably 200 guitars across 3 years!”
After seeing the opportunity to create his dream space in the building he’d always admired, Matt moved back to Hervey Bay eighteen months ago to open up The Front Room.
“It’s crazy, absolutely crazy, how your life can just change overnight!”
Cafe: The Front Room
Owner: Matt Suckling
Address: 399 Charlton Esplanade, Torquay, Hervey Bay, Queensland 4655
Coffee Supplier: Tim Adams Speciality Coffee