The Bredbo Inn Hotel, one of Australia's longest running hostelries, lost the roof from its accommodation wing early yesterday morning as high winds swept across the Monaro, south of Canberra.
Managers Mary Bligh and Allan Michael were in bed about 5am when the roof was torn away.
''We were just discussing if the place was going to hold and we heard an almighty noise and the roof went,'' Ms Bligh said.
Electricity to Bredbo was cut and debris was strewn across the Monaro Highway.
Ms Bligh said the bar, first licensed in 1836, would be closed for several days and the accommodation wing for two or three months.
''It was a blessing we didn't have any guests,'' she said.
Fear of causing further structural damage had meant the unroofed area could not be covered with tarpaulins. So there would be water damage from the heavy spring rain.
As she spoke to The Canberra Times - the hotel still without electricity - a man came looking for a drink but she had to turn him away.
''It is the pub with no beer at the moment.''
The damage to the historic building drew people from Bredbo to help.
''We saw the spirit of the village,'' Ms Bligh said.
The hotel, one of Australia's oldest with a continuous liquor licence, is said to be where the fabled Man from Snowy River died.
''He passed away in our stables after falling from his horse crossing the bridge on a frosty morning,'' the hotel says on its website.
The man in question, who was buried at Adaminaby, is thought by some to be the character on whom Banjo Paterson based his famous poem.