The sound of lively chatter returned to Wagga's cafes and restaurants on Friday, when restrictions were eased and patrons could sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee for the first time in months.
It was an emotional moment for bottle shop worker Tim Bailey, who said it felt strangely surreal to be sitting down in a cafe, having lunch, and drinking coffee in a ceramic mug.
"It's strange to realise that something as banal as this is now an exciting novelty," Mr Bailey said.
"All the proper coffees I've been drinking have been in a takeaway cup, which never bothered me before this - I never realise how much I'd miss coffee in a mug."
The streets of Baylis Street were busier than they had been in weeks, with car parking spaces becoming a rare commodity once again.
Retirees Cassie Gill and Judy Birks had not seen each other for two months, but on Friday they were able to reunite and catch up over a cup of coffee.
Mrs Birks said she is a cafe enthusiast, and that she had missed the lively atmosphere and the chance to sit down with friends since lockdown.
"The noise of the cafe is just wonderful," Mrs Birks said.
"We're really isolated at our age, so it's just terrific to go out and meet with people."
Mrs Gill said she'd had many chance encounters with friends while on the way to the cafe, many of whom she had not seen in months.
"It's nice to sit and talk instead of getting a coffee and going back home on your own, so this is lovely," Mrs Gill said.
Misha, Dean, and Hanneke Sweeney went on a family outing to have lunch, and they said they couldn't remember the last time they sat down at a restaurant together.
"It's fantastic because we don't have to go to McDonald's or KFC; we can go to a proper restaurant again," Dean said.
Hanneke said the mood on the streets was cheerful, with people glad to see some normality return to their lives after a stressful few weeks.
"You do feel more relaxed," Hanneke said.
"I feel you don't have to be so much on your toes when you go out."
It was a nice change of pace for their daughter Misha, who has been stuck at home taking Zoom lessons four days a week for school.
Michelle and Garry O'Connor celebrated their newfound freedom on Friday with a lunch date accompanied by a glass of wine.
Michelle said the two of them had been mostly cooking at home, but had been looking forward to dining together in a restaurant setting.
"It's nice to come to a restaurant. We've really looked forward to that," Michelle said.
"We feel safe in Australia, and now we feel safe to come out and have a nice meal."