THE sun is shining and the sausages are sizzling at Bunnings.

Sunraysia Men’s Shed members were invited to host the first traditional Bunnings barbecue back after the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions shut down the popular fundraiser earlier this year.

“It was great to be back,” Men’s Shed president, Bruce Hurrell, said this week.

“We had a great day, and it was good to see some normalcy returning to Saturday mornings for many people.”

Still restricted somewhat by social distancing and mask-wearing rules, the barbecue was set up a little way away from its traditional home close by the entry/exit.

There were also some teething challenges as Shed members became what Bruce referred to as the ‘guinea pigs’ for a safe, post-pandemic sausage sizzle.

But, by the end of the day, he said, the men had the procedures down pat, paving the way for other community groups that rely on the now-traditional Bunnings barbecue as a fund-raiser for a myriad of causes.

Meanwhile, some semblance of normalcy will also returning to Sunraysia Men’s Shed operations from next Tuesday. The Shed will re-open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to midday.

However, there will be restrictions. “We will be limited to just 20 members inside, and 10 outside for the time being,” Bruce said.

However, he said that would cater for all but the Shed’s busiest days based on past experience.

Of course, the Shed members will be adhering to a number of precautions to ensure a safe, COVID-19 working environment including social distancing and wearing masks as well as increasing the height of a dividing wall in the shed to allow it to effectively become a working space.

Bruce does not see the mandated precautions hampering the shed members too much, and revealed that interest in the shed was rising.

“I regularly take at least a phone call a day inquiring about the Shed and what we do … sometimes it can be two or three calls,” Bruce said.

The Shed has about 160 members on the books presently, but Bruce is pretty sure that will increase in coming months.

“Many men have been confined to home for many months and are looking for something to do away from home.”

Bruce said the Shed was also looking forward to welcoming back the Saturday morning tap dancing classes that were also impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions and had to be cancelled.

The shed hosts the group every Saturday morning for an hour or two. “It’s one way we give back to the community that has supported us so generously,” he said.

Regular Mildura Weekly readers may recall our story from July last year when the Mildura-based Sisterhood Tappers group, which had been resident at the riverfront Powerhouse arts venue for some time, was forced to find a new home.

Long story short, they found it at the Sunraysia Men’s Shed. The tappers enlivened Shed smoko times before COVID-19 hit.

Now the relationship that is enjoyed by both parties is set to get a new lease on life. The tappers are expected to return to the Shed in coming weeks.