Club Sapphire officially unveiled it’s new undercover lawn bowls greens on Monday night to rapturous applause from a large crowd of eager bowlers.
Board member Peter Moore joined Member for Bega Andrew Constance alongside Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Kristy McBain to cut the opening ribbon.
The mayor and MP were then invited to roll the first official bowls on the new artificial surface before a couple of exhibition ends by current world champions Aaron Wilson and Karen Murphy.
Around 130 people descended on Club Sapphire for the opening including NSW and Victorian state sides who will compete in a State of Origin challenge Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Let me welcome you to the home of Bega Cheese, and now the home of Vegemite. So that makes up happy little Begamites,” Mr Constance said during his speech.
“I guess in many ways we now have three great icons – Club Sapphire has become an icon in itself because of this facility.
“And I know the enjoyment of all three is something that will be unparalleled.”
Mr Constance said the new greens covers were huge and joked they would make a “great equestrian centre”, while commending the facility as “world class”.
“This is going to be a facility that attracts people to our region at a time when we're investing in the port of eden and investing in the airport … this is going to be a destination,” he said.
Mayor Kristy McBain echoed the sentiment, saying as a Merimbula local she had watched the construction over the past six months.
“People would ask what is happening and I told them ‘you just wait, just wait until it’s finished, it will be fabulous’,” she said in an address to the large crowd.
“And you haven’t let us down, it is a fabulous – It innovates your club but adds something really dynamic to our region as a whole.
“It will add an extra dimension to what we have here and I know the locals will enjoy this month-round.”
Mr Constance wished luck to all the teams competing in the State of Origin event, but said he had to side with NSW.
“I’ve got to barrack for NSW, but welcome to those who’ve travelled from Victoria,” Mr Constance said.
“I hope you go home happy and I am sure you will, but not as happy as the victors,” he added with a laugh, throwing a friendly jab.
However, Kristy McBain said she was torn about which team to cheer for.
“I’m more torn on this Andrew, I was born in Victoria,” she said “as many people in Merimbula are,” she added with a laugh.