NEWS Sis­ters in suc­cess snap up NT op­por­tu­ni­ties

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

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.

Pic­ture: KA­T­RINA BRIDGEFORD

Sis­ters Gio­vanna Webb and San­dra O'Con­nor swapped Colom­bia’s sprawl­ing cap­i­tal of Bo­gota for suc­cess­ful lives as busi­ness­women in trop­i­cal Dar­win

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