Get To Know Adelaide Tour Guide David Jarman

With a busy teaching career spanning 5 decades and a growing family to watch over, you wouldn’t expect anyone to start a hectic side gig as a tour guide, but that’s just what popular Adelaide Australia Tour Guide David Jarman did, delivering his first tour back in the early 1970s.
How did you begin your career? 

Having majored in Geography and History for my Arts Degree at Adelaide University, I did a lot of excursions which I enjoyed. I completed my diploma of teaching and secured a job in 1964 teaching these subject at a private school in Adelaide. I remained there for 40 years retiring in 2004, and I gained my bus licence and drove my students on many camps and excursions during that time

How did you make the transition into tour guiding? 

In 1972, I was approached to take walking tours of parts of Adelaide on weekends and during school holidays. Then in the late 1980s, a friend of mine approached me to be his emergency driver to take half day tours and full day tours from Adelaide. His company grew and grew and I ended up writing a lot of the commentary material for new drivers to use.

In 1992, I decided to give driving away and just concentrate on commentaries. Another company approached me to do “Step On” tours, where it could be a group visiting Adelaide from overseas or interstate. I would meet them at their hotel, airport or railway station, get on board, and take them on one of many tours.

To this day, I remain a freelance tour guide doing Adelaide walks and step on tours but the coming of cruise ships has brought a new adventure. Since retiring, I am able to take many more tours and from October to March each year. I take lots of shore excursions too as over 40 cruise liners are stopping in Adelaide this season and it is growing every year.

My wife and I have traveled extensively around the world. This improved my teaching and it is a bonus when taking a tour because I can share my own experiences of visiting their country or city.

What does a day typical day look like for you?

I do not take tours every day as I have many other commitments in the community and beyond. I am called upon to be a guest speaker at many groups in Adelaide. I knock back many invitations to speak and to take tours, but my family comes first and at the moment I take every opportunity to enjoy my small grandchildren. Tour guiding is to me an enjoyable hobby.

Do you have a certain style of guiding?

This depends entirely on the company employing me. If they request a city sight tour and provide an itinerary and timetable, I stick rigidly to the plan but if I am taking a couple who just want to see Adelaide I often either beforehand (if possible) find out from them their interests. If they just want to visit wineries and enjoy a wine tasting, or visit a wildlife park that is what I will do.

What is the best part of your job?

Meeting people and giving them a good time.

What is the most bizarre experience you have had on a tour?

There are many. I have picked up a couple who all they wanted was to go shopping. I took 2 very obese ladies on a tour in a limo as they could not sit in a bus seat, nor could they walk long distances but they did want to see the best houses in Adelaide after which they asked if I could show them the ghettos. To the latter request, I replied that we have no ghettos in this city and they were amazed but it is true. We do have some poor peoples’ housing but nothing like one sees in some American cities.

Every job has its ups and downs. Is there any part of your job that you don’t enjoy?

Generally, all tours are successful. It can be a little challenging when a group of younger people on a tour to a wine region for lunch get a bit out of hand (absolutely drunk ), and then getting back to their hotel can be a nightmare. Believe me, I have learned from experience in this regard.

What are the benefits of having a tour guide?

In the first place, all tour guides in South Australia need to be a financial member of the South Australian Tour Guide Association, SATGA and one cannot become a tour guide without qualification. I have recently returned from overseas and some tour guides my wife and I experienced were excellent, but unfortunately some others were just awful.

I believe a good tour guide knows the local knowledge of a place better than even a coach driver. I have even taken people from my own city on a tour and they are amazed at what they have learnt.

What are a couple of things that only a tour guide would know?

A lot of people do not know very much about kangaroos. They think they just hop down the street and that’s not the case.

Tour guides know EVERY place where there are clean toilets. Qualified tour guides know in detail our unique history, which overseas and even interstate visitors have no idea about.

What makes a good tour guide?

Lots of things, but the bottom line is always “Do their customers have a good time?”.

A tour guide must dress well and be well groomed; be punctual, pleasant and if you don’t know the answer to a question be honest and say so. A tour guide must know their material thoroughly. A tour guide needs to be a “people person”. Use a smile and be careful not get involved with religion and politics.  Always ask questions and negotiate in a pleasant manner. Become a sales person.

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  • Howard Shephard

    Hi David, I found your name by chance, browsing the internet, and it seems we share the same ancestry! My great great grandfather, William Henry Shephard arrived on the Tam O’Shanter in 1836. His son, William Thomas Shephard is my great grandfather. His son, Stanley Hopkins Shephard was my grandfather. Ronald Ophir Shephard, his son, was my father.
    I grew up in Adelaide where I lived until 1969 and attended Prince Alfred College. I lived in Canada for 10 years, returned to Perth for 3 years, then 11 years in the UK, before returning to Sydney and finally retiring to Perth in 1997. I have an older sister in Melbourne and an older brother who still lives in Adelaide and has carried the long line of the Shephard name through his son Nick and his grandson Bronson.
    Being an historian you probably know that our great great great grandfather remained in London (St John’s Wood) where he practiced law. I have accumulated quite a lot about the family history but it is not very well organised. The history of the Tam o’ Shanter is in itself interesting and I recently tracked down and visited Tam o’Shanter beach in northern Tasmania where she ended her days after being beached following a storm in Bass strait, en-route from Adelaide to Sydney. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to have a chat.

    Best Regards, Howard Shephard

  • Vaughn Napp

    terrific site cheers

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