It's been almost a year since the Palm Lake Resort State Carnival was held at various bowling clubs around the Manning-Great Lakes.
The five-day competition saw more than 1000 female lawn bowlers take to the greens around the area, bringing a buzz of competitive spirit and social activity with them.
This year the atmosphere on the greens and in the bars and bistros couldn't be more different.
With bowling clubs around the State closed for trading under the NSW Government's COVID-19 restrictions, not only has competitive bowls come to a halt, but social bowls - undoubtedly one of the most popular pastimes among senior Australians - has also disappeared.
A lot of them that's where their friends are, at the bowling club.Noel James
Given the large proportion of retirees and elderly residents who make up the region's population, this has left a void in the lives of many in the community.
"A keen social bowler might play three or four times a week," Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club member Noel James said.
"You might play all weekend if it's a competition."
While Noel says it's widely understood why the sport can't go ahead, especially considering the increased risk COVID-19 poses to the bowling community, he believes it's being sorely missed among his fellow players.
"I think they're missing the social interaction," Noel said.
"A lot of them that's where their friends are, at the bowling club."
Beyond the impact the restrictions are having on the players is the impact they're having on the clubs.
Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club bowls organiser, Rex Johnston, says there's a real concern among the bowling community that some clubs won't survive the pandemic.
"Throughout the State there were a lot of clubs that weren't very viable before the pandemic," he said.
"Clubs are an integral part of the community. I think that'll be missed if some of the smaller towns are to lose their clubs."
Given its status as a small club in a small community, the Manning Point Bowling Club fits the description of a club that could very much be tested by the economic impact of the current restrictions.
The club's trading has been reduced to takeaway alcohol sales, which usually only makes up a fraction of its daily business.
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Administration manager, Kirra Butler, said the restrictions had taken a big financial toll on the business, but it should be able to bounce back.
"I think we will be able to reopen our doors, but we'll just be heavily dependent on our patronage," she said.
Thankfully it seems the patrons are missing the club as much as the club is missing them.
"We've got people doing laps in the car park each day to see if we're open," Kirra said.
With roll-ups and practice sessions now permitted at a number of clubs around the region - with a maximum of 10 players per green and social distancing strictly enforced - and clubs slated for a stage three return, hopefully in July, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for bowlers and the club's that host them.
However, as Pacific Palms Bowling Club manager, Chris Williams, pointed out, it would be naive to expect things to go back to the way they were.
"I can't stress it enough, it's going to be a different world when we come back," he said.
Still, with the curve continuing to flatten and a road map to recovery in place, he's looking forward to the day the bowlers can return to the green and enjoy a beer and a meal afterwards.
"The general membership is really good, and the bowlers make up a good proportion of that," he said.
"It'll be good to have them back."
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