A Riverina village will soon get its beloved watering hole back when the taps are turned on for the first time in more than two decades.
Bethungra's Hotel Shirley was purchased by Sydney buyers in June for $1.38 million and they have several plans for the iconic site.
The historic stone hotel has been standing since 1886 but stopped pouring alcohol after it lost its licence in 2000 when several regional hotel licences were transferred to Sydney for the Olympics.
Hotel Shirley was put up for sale in 2018 for just $100, with previous owners Allan and Robyn Cox choosing a system that required interested applicants to pay $100 for a processing fee.
The pair, who bought the hotel in 2014, were stopped in the process by Fair Trading NSW.
In August 2022, an auction was held and Hotel Shirley was sold for about $700,000.
Another exchange was made in June this year, when the current owners took over the hotel.
Brian McManus, the real estate agent who has been handling the sales, said the new owners were hoping to open the hotel in November.
"The current buyer took over the hotel in June and it sold for $1.38 million," Mr McManus said.
If approved by Junee Shire Council, the hotel would not only have a functioning bar after 23 years, but it will also eventually have a bottle shop with a drive-thru.
"Packaged liquor will be set up on the right-hand side if approved by council with a separate, likely detached, drive-thru arrangement," Mr McManus said.
"There's plans for a Sir George-style function centre there eventually but that will take time, it will probably take two to three years to unfold."
Mr McManus said the physical bar was taken out of Hotel Shirley after its licence was taken away.
"It hasn't traded since it lost its liquor licence in 2000 so they took the bar out," he said.
"A lot of regional hotels lost their pubs because the licences were transferred to Sydney for the Olympics.
"The previous owners changed it to a bed and breakfast and it was purposed for that ... but I'm not even sure if it traded."
Mr McManus said it was good to see Hotel Shirley's future looking brighter than ever.
"It's a beautiful building, the best stone pub I've seen in NSW," he said.
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