CRIKEY! That phrase boomed into our living room religiously growing up as my sister and I never missed an episode of “The Crocodile Hunter” series. The phrase uttered by Steve Irwin was his most well known among his other enthusiastic statements about wildlife including other favourites of ours – “Isn’t she gorgeous”, “Feisty little Sheila”, “She’s a Beaut”, Absolutely Crucial”, “She’s really cranky” – We hung off of every word and were captivated by the enthusiasm of Steve Irwin and his wife Terri as they ventured through Australia’s bush and outback filming their documentary series. We both loved the passion Steve Irwin had for all wildlife and he would keep us on the edge of our seat as he engaged animals. We watched in awe as he jumped from moving vehicles, dove into a water hole onto a giant Croc, held and calmed deadly snakes or let giant spiders walk on his arm. He did all of this while educating the audience and infecting them with a passion for nature and conservation. We knew what he taught us inside and out, so much so that when I landed in Australia, my sister sent me a detailed list of things to look for including helpful hints of how to identify them!
Steve Irwin was born in 1963 and grew up in Queensland near the Sunshine Coast where he and his parents ran the “Reptile and Fauna Park” they started in 1970. It was this tiny park in Beerwah that Steve eventually grew into the Australia Zoo with the help of his wife Terri Irwin. Terri, who was born in Oregon (USA), met Steve in 1991 when she was touring Australia and happened to stop by Steve’s zoo which was then called “Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park”. They married in 1992 and Terri moved to Australia and for their Honeymoon, Steve and Terri went Croc catching and filmed a mini documentary while doing so. It was this film that led to the creation of their show “The Crocodile Hunter” and led to the Irwins becoming a household name around the world and leading advocates for conservation. During all of their work they also found time to start a family – having two kids – Bindi and Robert.
I can still remember how devastated my sister and I were upon hearing of Steve Irwin’s death in 2006. He died while filming a documentary on the Greet Barrier Reef when swimming with a Sting Ray. We grieved with millions of others at the loss of someone who came into our living rooms every week and shared his passion for conservation and the natural world. The legacy of someone like Steve never dies and lives on in those who were inspired by him in some way. The greatest thing we can do in our search for a sustainable future is to give to our children a reverence for nature; when people become in awe of nature, when they see wonder in every living thing, then they are inspired to protect it. We face a precarious future, brought about by unsustainable practices, unbridled growth and our world and all life on it is paying for it. We need to protect what we have left, try to restore what we have taken and live in a way that is rooted in our understanding of our connectedness to nature. We need the Steve Irwin’s of the world to inspire us and infect us with a passion for the world around us.
It was “The Crocodile Hunter” series that first ignited my desire to go to Australia. My sister and I would talk about travelling there and it aways centred around visiting “Australia Zoo”. So when Marcin and I planned our trip to Australia, one of the first things I planned into our trip was a stop at the zoo. We made it to the zoo half way through our trip and it was worth the many Km’s it took to get there. It was the best zoo we have ever been to; I felt like Steve’s passion infected every corner of the zoo, everyone seemed happy – from the animals to the staff – it was amazing. The only thing that would have made it better was if my sister was able to come with us. It was also the first zoo I have ever been to where you are able to really interact and be close to the animals. The “Rooheaven”, where we were able to walk among Kangaroo’s, as well as the Crocoseum educational show was some of our big highlights. Everything in the zoo was done in a way that is respectful to the animals and allows visitors to truly gain an appreciation for what they are seeing.
We have put together some pictures from our adventure – we hope you enjoy them.