By Ian Williams
Fifth-generation Port Lincoln character Joanne Utting loves history, she enjoys a good walk and she talks a lot.
So when she heard someone in the local information office asking about tours of the South Australian town Jo says she had one of those light bulb moments.
“I thought, ‘I can do that, people are always telling me to shut up’,” she jokes.
It marked the start of Port Lincoln Walk and Talk Tours – a fascinating 90-minute historic trip back in time for locals and tourists.
Inspiration for the new venture came at just the right time.
“I used to be a barmaid and cleaner and then I got lupas, an autoimmune disease which meant I couldn’t do strenuous work anymore,” says Jo. “I stayed at home getting depressed for about three years and knew I had to do something.”
Jo, 47, completed small business and tourism courses at the Port Lincoln TAFE and was looking for ways to use her new-found skills.
“As the idea for a walking tour started to evolve I joined two local history groups and volunteered at the local museum which really helped,” she says.
The walks take people along the foreshore from the Port Lincoln Hotel to the yacht club where they hear about local stories and scandals that have enriched the history of the town.
Jo has even been able to weave in some of her own family’s history.
In the 19th century one of her early ancestors, Thomas Bascombe, was charged and cleared of murdering a neighbour found dead in a woodpile on his property. The judge found it more likely that the woman had banged her head after falling down drunk.
Following the success of her foreshore walk Jo launched a two-hour twilight tour last year taking people around the historic Pioneer Cemetery which contains graves of the first settlers to Port Lincoln in 1839.
Again she’s done some extensive research.
“The people who helped make the town are buried there – you can find some of the best stories in cemeteries,” says Jo.
Altogether she does three to four walks a week, many of them personal tours for couples, but increasingly for school and community groups and also bus tours.
And she has more ideas in mind even though she’s currently receiving treatment for lung cancer. “I’m not letting that stop me because I’ve put in far too much work to stop now.”
Next year Jo plans to start pub walks, taking people on a tour of the local hotels for drinks and tasting – and her take on local history.
Photos by Fran Solly of Take 2 Photography
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