Merimbula bowlers rolling up to help out at Malua

The Merimbula Dolphins division one pennant side headed to Malua Bay this weekend for a friendly with their northern neighbours to help raise funds for the rebuild.
The Merimbula Dolphins division one pennant side headed to Malua Bay this weekend for a friendly with their northern neighbours to help raise funds for the rebuild.

Merimbula bowlers will aim to help Malua Bay get a roll on this weekend.

Merimbula bowls coordinator Michael Wilks said the Malua Bay Bowling club had been completely flattened by fires, but the greens at least have partially survived and locals will make the bus trip to do what they can to aid the recovery.

The division one pennant team are travelling up on Saturday to play an exhibition friendly with the club, headed by former Merimbula bowler Jay Breust.

Mr Breust is the bowls coordinator for the Malua Bay club and his job has been saved as the club looks to rebuild.

"We're heading up to show a bit of solidarity," Mr Wilks said. "They've lost everything, they've lost the club rooms, their bowls and everything."

"Only the greens have survived, they don't even have facilities."

"We just wanted to help lift their profile and help out on that road to recovery."

Malua Bay bowling coordinator Jay Breust and Merimbula bowls coordinator Michael Wilks reached the State Champion of Champions round in pairs last year.

Malua Bay bowling coordinator Jay Breust and Merimbula bowls coordinator Michael Wilks reached the State Champion of Champions round in pairs last year.

Club Sapphire itself was locked down as an evacuation centre for more than a week, but Mr Wilks said it was an anxious time trying to reach his former clubman.

"I had tried to Jay for three or four days after it happened, but we had no comms with them," Michael said.

"The power was out, the phone lines were out, we really didn't have any picture of what had happened until almost a week later."

However, after finally hearing the news the Merimbula club braced for its own brush with the fires.

A home to about 1500 people at the time, Mr Wilks recalls staying up until the early hours of Saturday morning, following what updates he could on the fire south of Eden.

"It's a matter of opinion on where you start to worry about it, but my personal feeling was if it got past Eden (on Saturday night) we would start worrying," Mr Wilks said.

About 20km north of the fire-front, embers were the main concern as club officials said they weren't sure what damage it could do to the synthetic greens or how they might react to hot embers.

Luckily for the Merimbula club, it was a three-day clean up effort to remove a majority of the storm of ash that rained down across the Far South Coast, with a few black stains the only reminder of the fire threat.

It was a stark contrast to learn of the devastation at the Malua club.

"The building and the bowls can be replaced, but people grow attached to their own bowls like a set of golf clubs or your favourite fishing rod, there is a lot of sentimental value that has been lost," he said.

"To lose it all is pretty sad really."

Mr Wilks said the game this Saturday had been a pretty "off the cuff" idea, but hoped Merimbula players might be able to help raise funds some way towards the recovery of the Malua club.

This story Bowlers rolling up to help out first appeared on Bega District News.