A pub left to decay in a ghost town in the middle of the stark desert plain of Queensland's channel country is set to serve up its first beer in over two decades in the coming months.
The abandoned former customs post of Betoota sits about 170 kilometres east of the nearest populated town, Birdsville.
Robert "Robbo" Haken fell in love with Betoota and its hotel when he frequented it in its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.
So it was a "dream come true" when he bought the pub just before Christmas.
"It's just a beautiful piece of Australian history and it has so much character," he said.
"It's not for everybody, because of its remoteness, but when I saw it there I thought somebody's got to do something with this building."
The Logan smash repairer said he would be splitting his time between Betoota and a station he runs in Glenmorgan — a 15-hour drive east from the town.
He said the long drives in the remote region are another reason he believes the pub will flourish.
"A local police officer came to visit us and he was extremely excited about it because of the high numbers of tourists experiencing driver fatigue," Mr Haken said.
"We're right in the middle of Windorah and Birdsville and I think it'll take a lot of pressure off tourists.
"Now they'll have somewhere to go to refuel, get their tyres changed, have a cold beer and relax."
Back to its former glory
Betoota was established in 1885 as a customs post for cattle going south to market and was also home to labourers working on the rabbit-proof fence in the early 1900s.
In recent times, Betoota is perhaps best known as the town that inspired the name of the satirical online publication the Betoota Advocate — although its writers are based in Sydney.
"I think they [The Betoota Advocate] put Betoota back on the map because of their larrikin style of reporting," Mr Haken said.
"In fact, when I bought the pub they thought it was a hoax … I think the purchase will be great for us and for them."
Mr Haken hopes to pay homage to the town's rich history through the restoration and return the pub to its former glory.
"When tourists and locals come to Betoota, I want them to walk back in time," he said.
"Inside there's a big ballroom and in past years there used to be big dances there to attract a lot of people, there also used to be a cricket team, so we're going to try and get that set up again," he said.
"We'll also supply groceries, a full workshop and recovery service as well as sell fuel."
A big gamble for new owners
Diamantina Shire Council Mayor Geoff Morton said he hoped Mr Haken would pull it off but said "it's going to be a big gamble".
"I wish them luck but they've got a lot of expenses they're going to have to cover before they even sell a first stubby," he said.
"Also, it's off the main drag so as far as all the locals go it may not be a hit because if you leave Birdsville and you're going east you want to go as fast as you can, not go 16 kilometres out of your way for a cold beer.
"I think as far as the grey nomads it'll be a boom, but whether they get enough people remains to be seen."
Lorraine Kath, the assistant manager of Mount Leonard Station, which surrounds Betoota, said it was exciting news.
"We're pretty excited to be working with the new owners and we hope that with the excitement on Facebook and online it'll boost tourism," Ms Kath said.
Ms Kath said she knew the former publican and last known resident in Betoota, Sigmund 'Simon' Remienko.
"He was an eccentric old chap, you never knew what price you were going to pay for a drink or fuel, it all depended on whether he liked you or not," she said.
"From what I understand he was a prisoner of war and came to Australia as a Polish immigrant."
Mr Remienko died in 2004, reducing the population of Betoota to zero.
Mr Haken said he hoped to open the doors by late August in time for the Betoota races and the Birdsville races.