Exhausted owners of Bethungra's Shirley Hotel say they are still up for a fight after Fair Trading ceased operations to giveaway a piece of Australian history.
Owner Robyn Cox and her husband Allan made headlines with their unusual proposal to sell the Shirley Hotel for just $100.
However an investigation by NSW Fair Trading found the couple, who were seeking applications, were in breach of the Lotteries and Art Union Act 1901, because applicants were not required to have a skill set to qualify.
Mrs Cox argued the department failed to issue them a warning letter, but is determined to find a solution, without having to put the hotel on the property market.
"We had interviews with them about how we were doing it and it took two months to comply, but there's no aggression on their part," she said.
"They didn't think there was enough skill set involved in the application process to continue forward.
"It's quite a contrary move because if we had to ask people for more skills, less people would have applied."
Mrs Cox admitted there is a long road ahead and said in the meantime they have found other work.
"We're catching our breath and leaving it for a while, in order to speak with people in the know," she said.
"We want to promote a way people can pass on these old buildings at no cost to future owners as well as covering all bases that Fair Trading has advised us.
"It's a slow process and we're just playing the waiting game, but it also costs a lot to contact the right people in moving forward."
Due to banks tightening their lending, Mrs Cox did not want the Shirley Hotel left to rot because many people would not be able to afford it.
There's no point whinging or whining as it's a battle to change things, but we're up for it and we've started the conversation.Shirley Hotel owner Robyn Cox
"There's a beautiful old bank in Narrandera for sale, but the banks are asking for 50 per cent of the profit because it's commercial property," she said.
"Through our method, we've started a conversation that it is hard to get financially viable with these properties.
"We'd like to get to the point where we can come up with a solution and through our journey, we've met a lot of people along the way in the same box.
"I'm really proud that we brought this to the public's attention in a big way; the public had no idea that 90 per cent of people can't afford to run these old properties and something has got to change," she said.
NSW Fair Trading spokesperson said a warning letter was issued in March 2019 to the owners.
"They were requested to immediately cease such conduct and remove all advertising material relating to the Hotel Shirley giveaway," the spokesperson said.
"Fair Trading also requested that all consumers who had entered the giveaway were issued with a full refund.
"It is understood that the owners complied with the request and matter was finalised."
Of 20,000 applications required to cover the costs, the owners only had to refund about 450 applicants, because they were expecting a rush of last-minute applicants.
"I feel exhausted; it's been a lot of work and having the building open for anyone to have a look at no charge means we have gone through our savings account to do that," Mrs Cox said.
"We just need to sit down, reboot and put money back into our savings to get back our energy to fight this battle.
"A lot of people supported us, but we also faced some very noisy people against it and it's a battle to change how things are done when they've always been done a certain way. But, we're up for the challenge."
The hotel gained not just local and national attention, but also worldwide interest.
"For so many weeks leading up to it, we had so many overseas people from China, America, Europe and the UK calling for us to open it up to the world," she said.
"If I did this again I would consider opening this to the world, but then it defeats the idea of Australia taking care of their heritage and history.
"We did really enjoy meeting people and have thoroughly appreciated the support, not just from locals but Australia-wide.
"There's no point whinging or whining as it's a battle to change things, but we're up for it and we've started the conversation," Mrs Cox said.