How Irwin family transformed after Steve

Supplied Editorial Bindi Irwin shares heartfelt tribute to late father Steve. https://www.instagram.com/p/CTZVzkohH1s/?utm_medium=copy_link
Bindi Irwin and her dad Steve. Picture: Instagram

The Irwin family are Aussie icons and have been for decades.

The Irwin name has been synonymous with Australia since patriarch Steve Irwin first appeared on screens for The Crocodile Hunter television series in 1992.

The exuberant host garnered worldwide attention thanks to his daring interactions with Australian wildlife, his enthusiasm for nature and his iconic catchphrase “Crikey!”.

NewsWire takes a look at how Steve Irwin built his legendary reputation and how his family has kept his legacy alive.

Bindi Irwin shared this picture of her and Steve to remember him on his birthday. Picture: Instagram
Bindi Irwin shared this picture of her and Steve to remember him on his birthday. Picture: Instagram
Bindi with her mother Terri, daughter Grace Warrior and husband Chandler Powell. Picture: Instagram
Bindi with her mother Terri, daughter Grace Warrior and husband Chandler Powell. Picture: Instagram

Steve was almost destined to be a wildlife warrior.

His dad, Bob Irwin, was a wildlife expert and his mum Lyn was a wildlife rehabilitator.

Because of their passion for nature, the family relocated from Melbourne, Victoria to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in 1970 to start the Beerwah Reptile Park.

The park became home to a variety of wildlife, including freshwater crocodiles, magpie geese and kangaroos.

Growing up at the wildlife park, Steve developed a skill for managing wild animals.

As a child he was on hand helping to relocate crocodiles, and he was just nine when he first attempted to subdue a crocodile by jumping on its back.

In October 1991, Steve took over management of the park.

Two days later he met Terri Raines and their whirlwind romance began.

Terri was a tourist visiting the park from Eugene, Oregon.

The businesswoman and conservationist met the Aussie larrikin during a “croc feeding” demonstration and the pair quickly fell in love.

About eight months later the pair were married.

According to the Australia Zoo website, the couple chose to go on a crocodile rescue mission instead of a honeymoon.

Steve Irwin arrives to hear the speech by US President George W Bush to the Australian parliament in Canberra on October 23, 2003. Picture: AAP Image/Reuters/POOL/David Gray
Steve Irwin arrives to hear the speech by US President George W Bush to the Australian parliament in Canberra on October 23, 2003. Picture: AAP Image/Reuters/POOL/David Gray
Bindi Irwin and brother Robert.
Bindi Irwin and brother Robert.

They filmed the adventure that eventually became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter.

Because of the series, Steve’s popularity as a television personality skyrocketed and the park became a tourist hotspot.

The park, which was renamed the Australia Zoo in 1992, expanded rapidly.

It now cares for more than 7000 native Australian animals every year.

Through his spiralling popularity and unwavering success, Terri and Steve also expanded their family, welcoming daughter Bindi in 1998 and Robert in 2003.

Steve, who confessed he never planned on being a dad, was overjoyed.

“I never wanted to be a dad, I couldn’t really give a rip,” he told Australian Story in 2003. “Now I’m the proudest father.

“I can’t dwell on her for too long or I start bawling my eyes out.

“Who would’ve thought someone as ugly as me could bring into the world something so beautiful, such a treasure?”

Supplied Editorial Bindi Irwin shares heartfelt tribute to late father Steve. https://www.instagram.com/p/CTZVzkohH1s/?utm_medium=copy_link
Bindi Irwin and her dad Steve. Picture: Instagram
Robert is pictured with dad Steve
Robert got his taste for fame at just one month old when Steve held him in his arms while feeding a crocodile at Australia Zoo.
20/09/2006 WIRE: Terri Irwin (C), wife of Australian environmentalist and television personality Steve Irwin, sits with daughter Bindi (L) and son Bob at a memorial service for her husband at Australia Zoo in Beerwah, in the Australian state of Queensland, 20 September 2006. Family, friends, fans and movie stars bade a final farewell to "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin in a high-energy memorial service fuelled by laughter, tears and music. Irwin, known as the "Crocodile Hunter", was killed 04 September by a stingray barb during a diving expedition. AFP PHOTO/POOL/STEVE HOLLAND
Terri Irwin sits with Bindi and Robert at a memorial service for her husband at Australia Zoo.

The family quickly became a package deal, with the kids heading along to work with their parents from a very young age.

Robert got his taste for fame at just one month old when Steve held him in his arms while feeding a crocodile at Australia Zoo.

The move sparked public outrage and debate around the world and even prompted a change in the Queensland government’s crocodile handling laws.

The family looked set to take the world by storm, but in 2006 it all came crashing down.

On September 4, the Irwin family changed forever.

Steve had been at Batt Reef near Port Douglas in Far North Queensland filming for the TV program, Ocean’s Deadliest, when he was killed by a stingray. He was 44.

His death sent shockwaves around the globe.

Bindi, who was just eight at the time, delivered a heart-wrenching eulogy for her father in front of 5000 fans and 300 million television viewers.

Steve Irwin Memorial Service
Bindi reads a eulogy about her father. Picture: Steve Holland/Pool/Getty Images
She gave a heartwrenching eulogy. Picture: AAP Image/POOL/AP, Steve Holland
She gave a heartwrenching eulogy. Picture: AAP Image/POOL/AP, Steve Holland

“I have the best daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day,” the little girl dressed in the iconic khaki said.

“When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals.

“I don’t want daddy’s passion to ever end – I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did.”

In the years that followed, the family have worked hard to keep Steve’s legacy alive.

Steve had hoped his children would share in his passion for wildlife.

He told reporters the proudest moment of his life would be seeing his kids run his conservation mission.

“When my children can take the football that I call wildlife conservation and run it up – when they’re ready to run up our mission, I will gladly step aside,” Steve said.

“And I guarantee you it will be the proudest moment of my life. My job will be done then, and only then will I know that I have achieved my ultimate goal – to be able to stand aside and let them run up my mission.”

Bindi and Robert have both followed in their father’s footsteps, with conservation and television work.

The family have continued to build on Steve’s legacy, with Bindi and Robert growing up among the animals at Australia Zoo, where Robert was feeding freshwater crocodiles by age eight.

Bindi has also made a name for herself as a television personality.

She got a taste for stardom much younger, starring in her own show, Bindi the Jungle Girl, in 2007, about the same time she also launched her singing career.

Following her father’s death, she made appearances on talk shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Late Show With David Letterman and Larry King Live in an effort to keep Steve’s legacy alive.

The couple welcomed their first child, Grace Warrior Irwin Powell, in 2021. Picture: Instagram
The couple welcomed their first child, Grace Warrior Irwin Powell, in 2021. Picture: Instagram

She appeared on Dancing with the Stars in 2015 and took home the mirror ball trophy.

In 2020, she married American professional wakeboarder Chandler Powell.

The couple welcomed their first child, Grace Warrior Irwin Powell, in 2021.

The couple paid tribute to Steve with her middle names, Warrior Irwin.

“The name Grace Warrior suits our daughter perfectly and feels like the perfect way to honour the greatest Wildlife Warrior to have ever lived, my dad,” Bindi told Hello! in 2023.

“I always joke that if he (Steve) was still here, we’d never see our baby because he’d take her on all kinds of adventures,” she told The Bump.

Robert has also been making name for himself, including hosting I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! and taking to the catwalk at Melbourne Fashion Festival earlier this year.

He even became the face of a Queensland tourism campaign aimed at luring international visitors to the Sunshine State.

As a child, Robert published a book series Robert Irwin: Dinosaur Hunter and appeared in television shows including Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors alongside his mother and sister as well as a TV show he co-hosted called Wild But True.

ROBERT IRWIN BIRTHDAY
Robert celebrates his 19th birthday at Australia Zoo. Picture: NewsWire/Tertius Pickard
IRWIN BIRTHDAY
Here he feeds a crocodile during his 17th birthday celebrations at Australia Zoo. Picture: NewsWire/Tertius Pickard

Audiences around the globe couldn’t get enough of Robert, and by the age of 13, he began appearing on popular US late night talk show The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he showcased different animals.

A love and talent for nature and wildlife photography also emerged, leading to awards and photography exhibitions around the world.

Most recently, he starred alongside his mother and sister in three seasons of reality TV show Crikey! It’s the Irwins, which centred on the family’s work at Australia Zoo.

Alongside his sister and mother, Robert’s passion for animals and wildlife conservation has been evident throughout his career.

He continues to educate guests at Australia Zoo about crocodiles and supports conservation projects around the world, including by participating in the annual Australia Zoo crocodile research trip on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Far North Queensland.

With Bindi and Robert having more than 11 million Instagram followers between them and met with world leaders including King Charles to discuss the protection of natural habitat, the Irwin family’s influence and success is undeniable, and it seems the public just can’t get enough of the wildlife warriors.