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January 15 this year represented a special anniversary for Friendly Bay Islander owner and managing editor, Gerard Thompson. 

It was on January 15, 1964, that our erstwhile scribe started his career as a journalist at the illustrious Goulburn Evening Post NSW, working and learning alongside editor Ray Leeson as well as his father, Len Thompson (former journalist and Assistant Clerk and Sergeant of Arms of the Tasmanian House of Assembly in Parliament House, Hobart)

This was after finishing his education at Marist College and St Virgil’s College in Tasmania (long story). 

Stints at Port Moresby and Lae in Papua New Guinea followed working on the New Guinea Times Courier and the South Pacific Post, where one of his tasks was the transcribe the first official announcement of the date for ‘independence’ for PNG to become an independent nation.

A return followed to Tasmania and to The Advocate at Burnie for several years, where he also started another interesting ‘career’ as a professional athlete (another story).

Ironically, it is 50 years to the exact same date (January 15) that Gerard Thompson was appointed editor of the Port Macquarie News on the Mid North Coast of NSW in January 1974.

Nearly three years later in October 1976, he went into independent publishing, establishing the Holiday City Express, later to become the weekly publication, the Port Macquarie Express.

This publication he sold to a gentleman by the name of Kerry Packer and Consolidated Press in August 1984.

After a four-year time that included a two-year stint at the ABC as a producer of the North Coast morning show, Gerard Thompson again started his second publication, the Port Pictorial. 

It was the first time a monthly magazine covered the Port Macquarie, Wauchope, Camden Haven and even Kempsey areas of the Mid North Coast of NSW.

‘Retirement’ brought Gerard and his wife, Glenda, to the SMB Islands in 2009.

However, problems with island identity and reputation at the time and lack of inter-connection between islands, encouraged him to start The Friendly Bay Islander in October 2011.

Producing a high quality colour monthly publication has helped link all the islands in a unique and very special way.

And he could not get it all together were it not for his youngest daughter, Elissa, who does all the artwork for the magazine.

Another big move was also to establish and operate the online Radio Station, Radio FBI.

No, not the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but the Friendly Bay Islands!

Still going strong, the Friendly Bay Islander is busier than ever, playing an important role in presenting a positive image of our islands and island business and industry.

• Gerard Thompson with his youngest daughter Elissa, wife Glenda and sons Dane and Daniel.



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