Four months after a dispute between the landlord and tenant forced the closure of the Gundaroo Colonial Inn for the first time in more than a century, the beer has begun flowing again.
Established during the gold rush in 1872, the Gundaroo Colonial Inn has seen many iterations over the years but it has always remained the central meeting point for the people of Gundaroo.
The Inn reopened on 6 November after a NSW Supreme Court judge ruled that publican Chris ‘Choppy’ Connor should be able to trade to allow the business to make money and pay landlord George Nicola.
Both parties will continue in that capacity until a full hearing is held in early December.
The dispute is based on who should manage the pub moving forward. Mr Nicola believes the pub would be better served by another manager, suggesting it has deteriorated, while Mr Connor believes the pub is rightfully his to run, and thinks Mr Nicola could have been more supportive throughout the pandemic period.
Mr Connor’s business partner, Scott Harding, said the community had been supportive, coming in to help get the inn ready for its reopening.
“It’s really the focal point and hub of the Gundaroo community and to have it shut for so long has been devastating, not only for us but for the community of Gundaroo,” Mr Harding said, “so it’s very exciting for a lot of people.”
With only a month of business before the hearing, uncertainty remains about who will be pouring the beers by Christmas time.
“Our big focus has been opening the doors back up for people who just want to come and have a beer in a pub, while the publican and the landlord sort their differences out,” Mr Harding said.
“We want to have an amicable solution to this matter and are open to discussions on it. It’s just now how the courts will see it.”
Nick Drew organises Gundaroo’s local weekly event the Sunday Handicap and was thrilled with the return of the pub. He headed in for dinner on the first Sunday night.
The Sunday Handicap is usually a weekly walk or run for locals, followed by a meal and drink at the pub, but it’s been a long time between drinks for members, who are all looking forward to their return this weekend.
“When lockdown ended and the pub was still shut, there was a general bit of sadness about that I think,” said Mr Drew.
“It was just lovely to be back and see Choppy’s smiling face back behind the bar. It was a nice feeling.
“(Sunday’s) forecast is not looking great and we’re sort of getting to the busy time of year where people have lots of things on, but I’m hoping there will be a bit of pent-up enthusiasm and we might get a good crowd down there.”