Janine Della Bosca, Fremantle Prison

Janine Della Bosca Fremantle Prison

I discovered tour guiding later in life, I managed an Education Resource store as a young woman, later changing course to pursue my interest in Visual Arts, completing an Art Degree at Curtin University in 2006. Working as a conceptual Visual Artist, my work explored social codes and mthods of communication, in particular the spoken word. During my time as an art student I attended some classes in the Women’s Division of Fremantle Prison and was immediately captivated (pardon the pun) by the site.

Both my parents were great storytellers. I listened avidly to the tales of goldmining in Kalgoorlie and the teams of horses used to clear the land to farm in the Wheatbelt where I grew up. I loved them with a passion and soaked them all up, now I’m telling stories too.

In 2010 I was employed as a Tour Guide at Fremantle Prison; it was the year the Prison was added to the World Heritage list. When I attended my first tour at the prison as part of the induction process, I was mesmerised and completely in aw of the site and the history within it, I fell a little bit ‘in love’ with Fremantle Prison that day.

Although my previous jobs had involved regular contact with the public and high standards of customer service, I was a shy person by nature; my training was on site and comprehensive. I soon discovered that when you are truly passionate and authentically engaged in what you are presenting, with some hard work, practice and experience you can excel at public speaking and interpret information clearly and articulately.

I discovered a natural aptitude for communication and an ability to establish relationships quickly. I also work very hard on my tours to be respectful and inclusive of all visitors. As a professional Tour Guide I commune the prison’s heritage to visitors from all around the world. I am sincerely passionate about my job and continuing the great traditions of storytelling in an accurate, engaging and provocative way.

There have been many significant experiences throughout my career; a standout for me was in 2012 when I was involved in the development and ongoing presentation of the Fremantle Prison Art Tour, showcasing artworks by prisoners on the surface of the prison. Later I contributed to the research and editing of a companion publication ‘Art Behind Bars: Murals and Graffiti of Fremantle Prison’.

In 2017 I was proud to conduct the inaugural History of Indigenous Incarceration at Fremantle Prison Tour. The prison’s history is often dark and contested, dealing with confronting and difficult content that challenges me to present an objective account of events, whilst being mindful of personal and cultural sensitivities. I readily accept the challenge and consider these specialty tours intrinsic to offering a comprehensive history of the prison. I will present both tours this year as part of the Australian and Fremantle Heritage Festivals.

After being a finalist in 2015 and 2016 I was beyond thrilled to win the FACET Golden Guide Award in 2017. Of course that meant writing three submissions and I found that process invaluable in terms of defining for yourself as a guide, what your intentions and goals are, and what methods you can implement to achieve them. I feel so honoured and exhilarated to have won this award and be recognised for the hard work and passion that many Tour Guides throughout Western Australia contribute to the tourism industry. I believe the importance of excellence in Tour Guiding is paramount to the visitor’s experience and this award, recognising the dedication to, and pure joy of interpretation is, in itself a unique and extraordinary gift.

It is now nearly eight years since I began my career and I have never lost the enthusiasm or love of my job and I feel blessed for that. After a challenging ankle surgery last year, I am again doing what I care about, and do best. Fremantle Prison introduced three new day tours in February of this year, so we continue to peel back the layers of heritage, and show areas of the site that were previously inaccessible. With new tours come new challenges, information and the logistics of moving visitors through the prison and I’m enjoying every moment of it.

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