Elena Gomatos is one of the founding members of the Darwin City and Waterfront Retailers Association and is currently the chair. The 50-year-old local businesswoman has lived in Darwin all her life and has three children. She is one of three locals behind the City Savvy App, which was launched in 2017 to equip locals and tourists alike with special offers, directions and information about accommodation, attractions, shops and upcoming events.
What do you love most about living in Darwin?
I love being able to walk down the street and say, ‘hi’. That’s pretty unique for a city. It’s like a small town in that regard – rather than a large city where no-one wants to know who you are or no one cares. It feels like I’m in a really strong, caring community. That’s probably one of the key things that I love about living in Darwin. Another great thing is you don’t need to wait weeks or months to see someone – you can see people all the time that are special to you. Darwin is a great place to live, raise your children and be involved in the community. There’s also a lot of activities for people who are older, really short commutes and strong support, plus it’s a place of opportunity. We’ve got some really beautiful spaces, too. One of my favourite times of the day is my drive home, as long as it’s before dark, past East Point as the sun’s setting and walking along the foreshore at Nightcliff. I love living here.
What is the best thing about the wet season in Darwin?
It’s so green and I love the rain. I love sitting on the verandah watching the rain. If you want rain, come to Darwin. We’ll show you rain. We also have spectacular lightning shows. They are so unique. I know people think, ‘Oh my God, it’s raining’ but it cools the place down and makes Darwin beautiful. I’ve only just recently fallen in love with my backyard, making it green and gorgeous and lush. So I can’t wait for the wet season to come to see how my garden thrives.
What is the thing you can only do in Darwin in the wet season?
Watching the rain. I love it. Historically, we’ve told people not to come at this time of year; we always put people off. But our language needs to change. Are we thinking of people’s discomfort, or that they may not be used to the weather? But actually it’s a great time to be outdoors and we should be celebrating the fact that we are 365 days summer. You know, people don’t stop going to Bali because it’s raining or because it’s hot.
What are you looking forward to seeing in the Tropical Light: Bruce Munro exhibition?
It’s just an amazing project to have come to Darwin and to have Bruce Munro come here, given what he’s done around the world. Also, it’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase spaces in the city – get people thinking, ‘wow, isn’t this such a wonderful space to have this event and these installations in. What else can we do here?’ I’m so excited for this to come to Darwin, and can’t wait to see the Water Towers on the sea wall. It’s going to bring a lot of good things to this city. It will show people all the different spaces and how to look at them differently.
What has been your best Darwin experience in the past few months?
Spending more time outdoors. As a younger teenager I’d go away camping with family. But as I got older and spent more time working it wasn’t a priority and I tended to stay indoors more. More recently though I’ve been outside, doing projects in my backyard to make my environment more beautiful or enjoying the city from an outdoor perspective. We are so stuck behind our computers at work and we really need to step outside and take a moment to see the beauty that surrounds us. We’ve got our amazing beaches and ocean, stunning sunsets and national parks like Litchfield and Kakadu.
What is the most important factor you want potential visitors to know about Darwin?
Until people make a decision to come here they’re really not that aware about Darwin, probably thinking it’s a bit of a hick town. You know, it’s not. We’re so exposed to being an Asian gateway. There’s so much brought in from a multi-cultural perspective that we’ve got much more to offer than what people actually think. And when people actually get here they are surprised; they actually have a ‘wow’. I want to let people know how great Darwin is and what amazing things they are able to do when they come to visit. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. We’re very lucky.
How do you benefit from sharing your experiences of Darwin?
For me personally, it benefits the community to highlight all the different activities people can do. With my business hat on, if there’s a way to revitalise our tourism industry in Darwin through sharing experiences that’s wonderful for city businesses and much needed, too. Local businesses are the first point of contact as a visitor. You’re going to go into a coffee shop, or get a bite to eat. It’s exciting times for everyone and as an ambassador for Bruce Munro: Tropical Light I’m looking forward to letting visitors know all about the wonderful things you can do here and encouraging the better use of outdoor spaces.