Frank Baldwin Parkinson was an associate of the Royal School of Mines in London (ARSM). He travelled in Somalia in the late 1890's and with Lieutenant J. Brander-Dunbar as co-author published a paper, "[A journey in] northern Somaliland" in the Geographical Journal (1898). At some time he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS).
In 1901 Parkinson had arrived in the Orange River Colony (now the Free State) as manager of Grant's Farming Company, Ltd. He developed a system of irrigation on the farm "Baviaankrantz" (not identified, but probably east of Hopetown) on the Orange River. The experiment was performed on a patch of alluvial soil some 400 ha in extent and less than 20 m above the river. To avoid damage to ordinary pumps by the high silt content of the water he used chain-and-bucket pumps, working in shafts sunk at some distance from the river. Water was supplied to the shafts by means of a 300 mm diameter syphon from a rocky pool out of the main current. He successfully produced cereals as winter crops, and potatoes and vegetables during the summer. He described his scheme in a paper, "Irrigation on the Orange River", read before the South African Philosophical Society on 26 March 1902 and published in its Transactions (1903, Vol. 14(1), pp. 76-78). When the British and South African Associations for the Advancement of Science met jointly in South Africa during 1905, he presented an updated version of his paper at the meeting in Cape Town. It was entitled "Notes on irrigation farming on the Orange River" and an abstract was published in the Report of the British Association for that year (pp. 590-591). His paper later also appeared in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope (1908).
In 1907 Parkinson presented a fossil plant from the shales of the Dwyka Formation to the South African Museum in Cape Town. It had been collected on the farm Elandsdraai, on the south bank of the Orange River some 10 km east of Oranjerivier Station, and was described in the Geological Magazine in November 1907 under the name Lepidodendron - a genus of tall, flowerless fossil trees belonging to the Pteridophyta (a group that includes ferns, horsetails, and club mosses). His donation also included some crustacean remains from the Dwyka Formation, and prehistoric stone artefacts. In 1909 he informed the government of the Cape Colony that he had discovered a process whereby diamonds can be dissolved. Years later he contributed a "Report on the occurrence of oil shale on the farm Elandsdraai, adjoining Orange River Station, district Hopetown, Cape Province" to the Report of the Geological Survey of South Africa (1923).