The road to Queanbeyan, early Canberrans found, was paved with good intentions.
The early years of the capital were dry. The first ordinance in the new territory - marked out as the site for a new and as yet unnamed city - was issued in 1911 and forbade liquor licenses.
King O'Malley, who was home affairs minister when the ordinance was made, was strongly opposed to what he called "stagger juice".
"Stagger juice and official business are absolutely incompatible. ... Delay is the seed of disease and death. There can be no efficiency without speed, and speed is impossible with muddled whisky brains," O'Malley said in 1916.
This limit on booze in the new territory was hardly a problem when five well-established pubs were doing a roaring trade just over the border, and there were two possible roads to take to get there.
"[T]he large weekly, and even daily, exodus from the Territory to Queanbeyan results in the taking away of a great deal of general shopping business which would otherwise be transacted in the Territory," the Federal Capital Commission noted in its second annual report in 1927
Queanbeyan pubs could again draw an exodus of neighbouring territorians with coronavirus restrictions eased slightly more in NSW. The state will allow 50 patrons in a venue from June 1.
This time, hopefully, without the disastrous consequences.
With no restriction on alcohol purchasing or how much could be brought into the territory, many persons, the Federal Capital Commission noted, bought liquor in quantities greater than they needed.
"This often leads to immoderate indulgence and sometimes to serious consequences, particularly in large camps," the commission's 1927 annual report said.
By the late 1920s, as more workers arrived in Canberra with a greater appetite to make the trip to the Queanbeyan and bring back plenty of drink, debate ran hot on the future of the territory's prohibition.
The first true pub - the Kingston Hotel - did not open until 1936, well after a public vote offered Canberrans the chance to end prohibition in 1928. More than half of those polled favoured the sale of liquor on licensed premises. Less than 20 per cent wanted the old system to continue.
There had been plenty of debate before the change, however - with the city first having to acknowledge there might be a problem with liquor.
"For all that may be said about it," Harry Grover wrote in a 1927 pamphlet published in Melbourne, "Canberra is a sedate and sober city, when it is at home. It is an honest country lad, who hops across the border occasionally for a spree."
In 1926, Queanbeyan alderman were "justly indignant" that W. G. Mahony had told the House of Representatives he had photos showing hundreds of cars lined up Queanbeyan ready to take people back to Canberra with their loads of liquor.
"Such a statement should not be allowed to go unchallenged; it was a slur on the people and the town. If Mr Mahony had inquired into the facts he would never have made such a statement, which was far from accurate. ... Not one-third of the cars seen in Queanbeyan streets went to the Federal Capital," The Queanbeyan Age reported Alderman Harris saying.
There was never any need for serious bootlegging operations given Queanbeyan's proximity, but Canberrans are said to have got creative in acquiring alcohol.
"Faced with the difficulty of purchasing alcoholic liquors here," The Canberra Times revealed on its front page in January 1928, "many drinkers within the Territory are resort to the habitual consumption of tonic wine."
That dozens of cases of the stuff were arriving each week by rail for sale by chemists was the "undisputable conclusion" of an anonymous medical expert. The claims were later challenged by the Federal Capital Commission and the city's chemists.
But one thing was for sure: just because you couldn't buy alcohol in the territory did not mean the place avoided all the problems with drink, even if they were concealed.
"To-day the citizen and the visitor can walk with his wife and family around any hotel in Canberra and enjoy the gardens and parks without risking any unpleasant sights in the shape of drunkenness," one letter to the editor noted in February 1928.
"Can it be said that the same would [remain] if any of the hotels had a public license. If there is a doubt, pay a visit to our own neighbouring town and then return to Canberra and compare the conditions."
Indeed, many Canberrans may soon be inclined to pay a visit to the city's neighbouring town where pubs will be permitted to operate more freely, a storied tradition in the life of the capital.