Richard Harry isn't the first rugby star to buy a country pub and he's unlikely to be the last. Actually, his first Bungendore pub purchase is no longer his last, either.
The former Wallabies prop purchased the town's Royal Hotel after an initial foray into "emptying the odd ashtray" at Bungendore's Lake George Hotel 12 years ago.
In the wake of successful player-turned-publican Bill Young, the licensee of Bungendore's "top pub" and "bottom pub" is working to get the former operational.
"Maybe we just buy pubs because we like drinking beer, but it beats playing golf and all that," Mr Harry said.
"I like eating and drinking, so it made a lot of sense."
Canberra-based hoteliers, the O'Donnell Group, were forced to shut the doors at the Royal prior to putting it on the market back in February.
With the Royal deemed too flammable to be safe, its former owners handed the reins and responsibility to Mr Harry to get it fire safety-compliant.
"Timber pubs. No one wants to touch them, basically," Mr Harry said.
"It's a bit of a renovator's delight. There's a fair bit of work just to get it up and running and to accentuate what it is, which is a beautiful country pub."
With Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council green-lighting a development application this week, the Harrys hope to have "top pub" reopened in time for Christmas.
"To be honest, I can't open quick enough. The community want it, we want it, having an asset sit there in mothballs is no good for anyone," he said.
While the renovation aim is minimal change, Mr Harry said an extensive tidy-up would see areas of the hotel operational after years of disuse, with the hope of filling the beer garden this summer.
With the Lake George Hotel turning to takeaway for several weeks due to coronavirus in March, the escalating COVID-19 situation in NSW had not gone unnoticed.
"Armageddon would be another lockdown," Mr Harry said.
"But if it is, it is and we'll be pragmatic in how we approach it."
Following NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro's disclosure of a plan to create a travel bubble between the state and the ACT, where Bungendore might sit was called into question.
Mr Harry said separation from Canberra would be a worst-case scenario.
"Is the bubble ACT and NSW or ACT and its surrounds? Which side are we on?" Mr Harry asked.
"We're a bedroom suburb of Canberra. To cut Bungendore or Murrumbateman off or any of these emerging areas which provide housing and support for the wider Canberra community, where to draw the line is a vexed question."
Despite any coronavirus or renovation setbacks, Mr Harry said there had been no regrets regarding the decision to move between footy in Sydney and farming and 'pubbing' in Bungendore.
"The best decision we've ever made is to come down south," he said.
"I've always loved the bush. I spent a lot of time as a kid at a friend's sheep farm in Wellington and we always thought we'd end up with a property there.
"Long story short, we got a bit of advice to have a look down here and we couldn't be happier."