By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Relief was palpable as sportspeople returned to their fairways, rinks, courts and fishing spots from Wednesday 13 May.
With the easing of pandemic restrictions on outdoor gatherings, some popular recreations like golf, bowls, tennis and fishing re-opened across Victoria.
Compleat Angler owner Glenys Cooper said “fish-a-holic” team members and customers were excited after a “very long” six week ban on fishing.
“Sitting by a river, being in a boat or standing on a pier and putting a rod in the water is the most magical of moments and especially when we have not been able to do this for so many weeks.
“Over these past few days we have had a laugh about the dads coming in with their ‘home schooled students’ getting ready to go fishing saying it was part of a ‘maths lesson’ on how big is the fish, too geography on where to go and then science on how deep is the water.”
During the past six weeks, the Compleat Angler had hit choppy waters with its trade down 75 per cent.
“It made it very confusing for us in Victoria as we were the only state that had banned this form of exercise.
“Looking at Facebook and all the updates of what had been caught in other states made the wait even harder.”
Churchill-Waverley Golf & Bowls Club’s car park was abrim on the first day of re-opening.
General manager Matthew Taylor reported “significant interest” from golfers.
“It’s everything to them.
“For a lot of people, golf has been their vehicle for physical and mental exercise.”
Meanwhile tennis clubs and bowls clubs were busily implementing health guidelines such as sanitisers and social distancing.
No matches or tournaments were yet allowed, but even practice was a welcome step, according to the clubs.
Burden Park Bowling Club was opening every second rink and limiting 10 players to a green. The clubrooms and bar will remain closed.
“We put out an email to members that we’re open – so there’s no visitors or spectators,” secretary Ken Freestone said.
“We got about six people down in the first hour. Everybody was saying Thank God, it’s about time – a few were getting a bit frustrated.
During lockdown, the club lost thousands due to the cancellation of playoffs, including a major regional tournament.
Noble Park Tennis Club had also lost revenue such as court hire over recent weeks, president Suzanne Lawrence said.
Under Tennis Victoria’s Covid-19 guidelines, it planned to operate with half of their courts open – with a limit of 10 players in total.
“We’re glad the numbers (of new coronavirus cases) are very positive in our council area,” Ms Lawrence said.
“I’m glad we’re living in this area.”
Clubs in council facilities were also awaiting the all-clear from Greater Dandenong Council.
Noble Park Tennis Club was given the all-clear for practise hit-ups on the following Saturday.
Greater Dandenong Council’s acting community services director Tilla Buden said the council was working with Sport and Recreation Victoria, sports associations and clubs on how to operate under Covid-19 guidelines.
“All clubs should be guided by their individual state sporting associations.
“Council’s priority is that all clubs using Council owned facilities are following and adhering to the guidelines outlined by the Victorian Chief Medical Officer, including good hand hygiene and social distancing.”