There was shared jubilation in the first moments of the NSW-Victoria border reopening in Albury-Wodonga, just as the border community has felt the pain of its closure collectively.
Sirens sounded at 12.01am and the handful of NSW Police members still at the checkpoint stepped off Wodonga Place, allowing free passage into the state.
Close to 100 cars crossed within the first 10 minutes, carrying people from Albury-Wodonga - enjoying the novelty of the historic moment - and beyond.
Many without Service NSW permits had been earlier waiting on the side of the Lincoln Causeway, for the midnight opening to occur.
They included Ballarat resident Craig Latta and his son Nathan, who were eager to escape restrictions in the southern state, if only for a holiday.
"I've really struggled with the mask thing," Mr Latta said.
"At the end of the day, it's there for good reasons, but my health doesn't do too well - I can only get halfway around the supermarket before I struggle. And if you haven't got one on, you're looked at.
"Governments are overreaching into people's freedoms a bit, we can't make any decisions for ourselves."
Mr Latta drove to Wodonga on Sunday, but accounts from Wodonga moteliers of people booking to cross were proven true with about 40 cars waiting with Mr Latta to get into NSW.
"I think most people will probably cross tomorrow, you've got to be a bit of a nut to come out at this time of night in the rain," the appliance repairman laughed.
The late hour and rain also did not stop a crowd of onlookers gathering at Wodonga Place, enjoying tunes of Steve Bowen who counted down to midnight.
"I think the police enjoyed the atmosphere," Albury's favourite DJ said.
Ellen Hines, a Melbourne resident originally from Albury, was among the drivers crossing and said she was looking forward to catching up with friends and family.
Border locals and those from further afield were equally excited to have the border open.
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While a few local police did work the 137th day of the border closure, the final group of policemen at the Albury checkpoint were from Sydney and the Blue Mountains and one was on his fifth deployment.
The happiness was clear on the face of Murray River Police Superintendent Paul Smith with such a large-scale operation coming to an end.
Assistant Commissioner Scott Whyte, who had been in Albury earlier on Sunday for the Premier's visit, said there had not been an increase in people attempting to cross without the right approvals leading up to the border opening.
"I can say it's been a massive police operation, I'm enormously proud of all the police officers that have performed duty over the 20 weeks," he said.
"It was a fairly large operation with only 36 to 48 hours' planning.
"The community support has been enormous.
"We've achieved, I think what we've set out to, to keep NSW safe through a very difficult time in this health crisis."
But the purpose and benefits of the border closure were questioned by Northern Victoria MP Tim Quilty, who had invited people on social media to make a freedom crossing with him.
"This has been the first time I've been able to cross; going up and down to Melbourne, I haven't been able to get a permit," he said.
"I'm very pleased to be here and obviously, a bunch of others were too.
"The whole thing was a waste of time, a big waste of money.
"It was a massive disruption, economically it's cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
"Regional Victoria never really had it [COVID-19] - our communities didn't need to be divided like this."
Mr Quilty believed many of those crossing "would not be coming back" to Victoria.
Regardless, the Wodonga-based Liberal Democrats MP was joyful and summed up his feelings about the sight of Wodonga Place free of dividers and police succinctly.
"It's excellent. Bloody good," he said.
This story first appeared on The Border Mail.