For years, many driving the State Highway 87 route to Central Otago have wondered why the Clarks Junction Hotel ended up being painted bright orange.

Now, after 21 years behind the bar, owners Adrian (65) and Gillian (64) Bardrick are ready to retire. But before they go, they have revealed how it came to be.

Mr Bardrick said the building used to be a cream colour, and unless you knew it was there, most people did not give it a second glance.

Initially, when it came time to repaint, he intended to paint it in the colours of a beer brewer.

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''But we ended up painting it orange because of all the publicity about a certain mega store in South Dunedin.

''We wanted it to stick out. It's eye-catching. You can't miss it.''

Mr Bardrick said he had taken a lot of flak over the years for his choice of colour.

''One guy keeps asking when I'm going to put the top coat over the primer.''

The couple have put the establishment on the market after reaching retirement age and they are now looking forward to ''slowing down a bit''.

Ironically, the couple bought the hotel in 1997 in their bid to create a quieter life for themselves.

Mr Bardrick was an electrician and Mrs Bardrick was working at the former Fisher and Paykel factory in Mosgiel.

''We wanted a change of lifestyle, so we decided to buy a pub.

''We thought it would be a slightly slower pace of life, but it wasn't,'' Mr Bardrick said.

''If you'd been here last night, you wouldn't call this place quiet.''

Just like his father before him, he had always dreamed of owning his own pub.

''I like to have a drink, but I don't like to go and drink too much. It's more about yarning with people, see what's happening in their lives and having a chuckle with them about it.''

Living vicariously through other people had brought him a lot of joy, he said.

''You do hear a lot of really good stories - nothing I can repeat.

''You don't need to work for the police to get good work stories.''

Mrs Bardrick said it was a little bit like being on the set of a soap opera some days.

''A lot of these stories get told to you when you're sober driving these people home.

''They tell you all their deep, dark secrets and then they don't remember the next day that they've told you.''

Fortunately, the couple were discreet and did not share what they heard.

Mr Bardrick said after two decades in the profession, the things he would miss most were the people and the scenery.

''People often drop by and give us some meat - beef, lamb, wild pork, venison - they look after us.

''It's a great community.

''We'll really miss this place. Never, ever have I got sick of this view,'' he said.

''There's always something different to look at.''

The couple plan to move a little closer to Dunedin in their retirement - but not too close.

Something with a rural view would be ideal, they said.

Southern Rural Life