NEWS Sisters in success snap up NT opportunities
COLOMBIAN- BORN Giovanna Webb is the material from which Territory legends are made.
Crocodile wrangler, businesswoman, mum and doting sister. For the best part of three decades she has been staring down monster-sized, man-eating crocodiles pursuing her passion as a crocodile farmer and operator of the popular family tourist business Crocodylus Park.
It is a career few men, let alone a woman, have the courage to tackle.
But ask if she ever gets scared wading waist deep in Top End murky swamps, home to man-eating crocodiles, and the answer is an instant “no”.
“Never, the day you get scared is the day you stop doing this forever,” she said. “It’s what I studied and trained for, along with my sister.”
The sister she refers to is Sandra, who is carving out her own niche as a successful Darwin businesswoman. Sandra also studied animal husbandry at University in Bogota. Her masters was in economics.
Together they are a Territory success story.
Such has been Giovanna’s success she was honoured in 2015 — by Colombia’s Nobel Peace prize-winning President Juan Manuel Santos — as one of Colombia’s top 100 overseas people from a population of 48.6 million. Even Australia, the country she became a proud citizen of, has honoured her. In 2013 she was named Australian Rural Woman of the Year and she was an NT Australian of the Year finalist in 2014.
Giovanna and Sandra have no regrets about swapping Darwin for Bogota.
Both agree Darwin is a place of opportunity and a place where hard work is rewarded. “Early morning starts and late finishes are pretty much the story for all small businesses, but it’s what you have to do,” Giovanna said. “This is a fabulous community with so many wonderful people with plenty of spirit. Every day I look forward to getting up to spend the day with our wildlife.”
For Sandra the work hours are much the same.
She owns and operates All About Party Hire and Darwin Party Hire. A good many of the outdoor events, receptions and weddings are the work of Sandra. On any given evening in the dry season she could have as many as six events happening. Of course Crocodylus is one of her favourite customers.
A typical day starts at 6am with set up underway and Sandra and her small crew are still there at 2am cleaning up.
“Australia as a country gives you lots of opportunity, but Darwin is just way above anywhere else,” she said.
Giovanna and Sandra hope the Gunner Government Budget tourism initiatives deliver the result they are pitched at.
“There is around 17,000 people dependent on the tourism industry and the Government has done the right thing injecting $100 million into helping it,” Giovanna said.
Sisters Giovanna Webb and Sandra O'Connor swapped Colombia’s sprawling capital of Bogota for successful lives as businesswomen in tropical Darwin