It was hard to break the focus of Club Malua bowlers as they eyed the play of opponents and friends in mid-November.
The friendly match is one of several weekly events Malua Bay residents are drawn to, and have kept members afloat after facing the flames, being displaced, losing their homes and fearing for loved ones.
For Club Malua member, Ellie Crompton, the venue had been her lifeline. She was grateful the greens were saved from the New Year's Eve fire, and a new marquee set up early in the year. Connie Anderson said social bowls had lifted spirits throughout the year. Kevin Ellison said he didn't care whether he won or lost, and looked forward to the opening of the planned clubhouse. Helen Rees hoped the community never had to experience the disaster again.
Cabra Bowls Group CEO Jay Porter said most clubs provided "untold benefits to its membership".
"Particularly given what the membership and community in Batemans Bay, Malua Bay and the wider South Coast went through towards the end of last year, it really took its toll on people," Mr Porter said.
"I was able to get down there as soon as roads opened.
"We held a community meeting on the bowling green because that was all that was left.
"Since then, we've been able to construct a marquee structure - a temporary clubhouse for members."
The development application for the new clubhouse has been approved, and Mr Porter thanked the Eurobodalla Shire Council for making the process easy.
He said the new project was large, and would "take some time".
The plan was to commence construction in February, 2021, and it would take about 12 months to build, weather-dependent, with an opening likely to be early 2022.
Mr Porter said the parent club at Cabramatta would invest $1.5 million into the main clubhouse, in addition to insurance funds.
Another $1.5 million would go towards a pavilion in the space where the current marquee is.
"The idea is to create the best bowling facility on the South Coast," Mr Porter said.
The bowling greens on the same level cemented its roots as a bowling club, and the main club would be for the entire community.
After bushfires and a COVID-19 scare, Mr Porter was feeling optimistic about 2021 and welcomed an exciting future.
He was glad Club Malua members were able to continue to play bowls throughout the most part of 2020.
"Greens, being big grass fields, were relatively unscathed. And really the bowlers just wanted to get back as soon as they could - clubhouse or no clubhouse," Mr Porter said.