Under a wide and blue late autumn sky, 20 members of the Canberra Croquet Club assembled on Saturday as the city continued to shake off restrictions on gatherings.
With community sport among the next in line for a staged return to normal, the club can again form its important social function.
The croquet club, which has sat prominently on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Coronation Drive for more than 90 years, bustled with the mesmerising game of golf croquet, among the three variants played on the heritage-registered lawns.
Club president Stephen Richards said it had been positive to welcome more members back after play could slowly resume as restrictions lifted.
A telephone tree was established by members to keep in touch with people unable to play during the lock down period.
Mr Richards said a core group had kept the social link going through the shut down period.
"I think pretty much they made contact with everyone of our members to say, 'G'day, how are you going?' And I think that was really nice and that was appreciated by the members, to have that contact, rather than sitting in your lounge room, reading another book or whatever," Mr Richards said.
There are people here today who probably play four or five times a week. That's two or three hours a time. That's a big chunk of your week to take out in one slabClub vice president Judy Tier
The club - where members play association croquet, golf croquet and gate ball - was closed in late March, but since mid-May members have been able to book space on the lawns using an online booking system that made sure there were never more than 10 people playing at the club.
Usually, 24 people can play golf croquet on the lawns concurrently. With restrictions lifted to gatherings of 20, the club can almost run at capacity.
Club vice president Judy Tier said the club was an important social hub for its members, which ranged in ages from 17 to 95.
"There are people here today who probably play four or five times a week. That's two or three hours a time. That's a big chunk of your week to take out in one slab," Ms Tier said.
"And also, I was thinking about it, quite a lot of our people are single, they live alone. And it's been a lonely time. Fewer than 50 per cent have come back to play, we've figured."
The heritage-registered clubhouse and lawns were damaged in the January hail storm and a blue tarpaulin still protects the clubhouse from rain, but work is underway to assess a possible expansion.
Mr Richards said the club's future was secure but sat in the hands of its members. The club was keen to modernise its facilities while staying within the heritage parameters of the site, he said.
"When I started 20 years ago, our membership was 60 or 70 people," Mr Richards said.
Then president, Phyllis Manning, said at the time men would not be able to interfere with the club's tranquility. Beer drinking would not be permitted.
"If they don't like just a cup of tea, they better not join," Mrs Manning said.