The shameful state of the grave of early Darwin journalist , Fred Thompson , who lobbed in the outpost in 1914 from the North Queensland paper , the Port Douglas Record, as managing editor of the Northern Territory Times, hammered the authorities, and with lawyer R.I.D. Mallam, later a judge , co-founded the open air debating society, the Goose Club .
The almost illegible inscription on the tombstone reads: IN LOVING MEMORY FREDERICK THOMPSON. A JOURNALIST WHO LAID HIS PEN ASIDE OCTOBER 5 ,1935. I PRAY THEE THEN WRITE ME AS ONE WHO LOVES MY FELLOW MEN .
By Peter Simon
Thompson's lively contribution to the wild settlement is covered in Douglas Lockwood's book , The Front Door. Darwin 1869-1969 . He told how rotund Thompson , during a campaign against taxation without representation ,was sent to Fannie Bay Jail from whence he smuggled out weekly reports about conditions inside, published in the union run Northern Standard , entitled Jayle Journal .
Fred would chuckle at the latest suggestion that the metal walled present day Fannie Bay prison site should be made look more like the foreboding calaboose of yesteryear with a watchtower, perhaps some barbed wire .
The late author Xavier Herbert, who wrote the 1938 Australian Sesquicentenary Award winning novel , Capricornia , about the Northern Territory , and the later epic, Poor Fellow My Country , knew Thompson .
That his grave is in such a rundown state is deplorable and reflects badly on the city authorities. It also indicates local reporters have no or little knowledge of him and certainly have not made a pilgrimage to the last resting place of a very colourful North Australian journalism trailblazer.