Bindi Irwin lost her dad on September 4, 2006. And on the same day, the whole world lost a much-loved media personality and conversationist champion. It’s not surprising, then, that when the tenth anniversary of Steve Irwin’s death arrived earlier this week, in September 2016, people from all over the world lined up to pay tribute to the beloved Aussie. However, few memorials were as heartfelt as his daughter Bindi’s.
Just like his daughter, Steve Irwin was born in a land famed for being deadly, difficult and unforgiving: Australia. In this part of the world, enormous crocodiles roam the waters, and you’d have to be stark raving mad to think you could tame any of them. But Steve Irwin was – in the best possible way – stark raving mad.
Steve was just nine when he tried to tame his first crocodile, and while this may sound like a legend, it’s assuredly true. Irwin grew up right in the midst of wildlife. His parents both worked with animals, and later they opened their own reptile park in Queensland. It was this park that Irwin eventually took the reins of in 1991. And he transformed it from its humble beginnings into the famous Australia Zoo.
It was through this very zoo, and a shared love of the Australian wildlife, that Irwin also met his future wife, Terri Raines. In fact, this animal-loving couple even chose to share their honeymoon with a bunch of crocs. And the footage from their trip was to become the first ever episode of The Crocodile Hunter. This was the show that would catapult the Irwins, especially Steve, to huge success.
At the height of their fame, Terri gave birth to the Irwins’ first child, Bindi. And, naturally, the couple named their baby daughter after one of Steve’s best-loved saltwater crocs. By this stage, Steve had risen to celebrity status not just within Australia, but across the entire world. In fact, billions of people were tuning in to watch his The Crocodile Hunter TV shows.
Irwin didn’t entirely escape controversy, either: there was that one incident, for example, in which he juggled his infant son in one hand while throwing strips of meat to a huge croc with the other. But despite this alternative approach to feeding time, there was no doubt that the Crocodile Hunter was a very good dad indeed. Of course he would be great with kids, though: he was practically a big kid himself.
Bindi, meanwhile, lived out the early years of her childhood much as her father had – surrounded by wildlife and supportive parents. But, tragically, this was all cut short when she was aged just eight. Yes, as she played with her skipping rope outside, her mother reached for the phone and received the terrible news that her daddy Steve had been killed.
Naturally, the Irwin family were completely devastated by their loss. Moreover, Steve – who was renowned for his daring antics and his love of the world’s most lethal animals – hadn’t even been doing anything particularly dangerous when he died. He had been swimming in shallow water when a stingray barb lanced his heart. And sadly, in spite of efforts to save his life, he bled to death before he could even make it to a hospital.
The entire world mourned for the Crocodile Hunter, but they mourned for his grief-stricken family, too, and for his young children especially. Moreover, everyone who saw Irwin’s memorial was particularly moved by the reading made by little Bindi. The young girl was extremely articulate and composed, especially considering the fact that she was an eight-year-old who had just lost a parent.
“My daddy was my hero,” Bindi read, carefully tracing the words on a piece of paper. “I have the best daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day.” And what made it all the more impressive was the fact that the youngster had actually written her speech herself, speaking into a dictaphone and then typing every word out on a computer with the help of her mother.
Following the memorial and after the media furore had died down, the Irwin family were left to put the pieces of their lives back together. In an interview with USA Today, Terri revealed that she had told her young children, “We can understand the grief and we can live with the grief. But we will not be victims of this grief.”
And, certainly, Bindi did not become a victim of her grief. In fact, in essence she took over the role that her father had once occupied at Australia Zoo, becoming an ambassador of wildlife and an educator of children. In June 2007, for example, she even presented a special program called My Daddy the Crocodile Hunter.
Plus, unlike many celebrity children who grow up under a spotlight, Bindi seemed happy and healthy whenever the public saw her. She grew into a teenager and then into a young woman, building a small media franchise and competently continuing her father’s work as she did so.
And then the tenth anniversary of her father’s passing rolled around. It seemed like so short a time since the tragedy had happened and Bindi had impressed the world with her tribute. Now, though, she took to her Instagram – with its 1.2 million followers – to release another one.
“You’ll be my hero for my entire existence,” Bindi posted on Instgram, alongside a picture of her father holding her baby self up with one hand and smiling widely as he did so. “I love you more than words can describe.”
Bindi’s followers on social media reacted positively – but with sadness, too. “Your dad made me smile and happy when I watched his show. You have the same wonderful personality that your dad had,” wrote one Irwin fan. “We miss him too, what a wonderful man. You’ve taken on his legacy and could not be a better representative,” wrote another.
And that wasn’t the only tribute that Bindi paid to her father as she reflected on ten years without him. The young woman also uploaded an Instagram video which demonstrated just how very, very much she was her father’s daughter.
In the vid, an 18-year-old Bindi, together with a team of men, wrestle a giant croc named Big Dunc into submission. “CRIKEY!” Bindi captioned the vid. “Our highly experienced @AustraliaZoo Croc Team uses the very same capture techniques that Dad developed so many years ago.”
Bindi did, however, receive a bit of criticism for the perceived cruelty of the act. But, as she explained, “We truly have the most elite team when it comes to catching crocs and we all share the passion of protecting crocodiles as well as educating others. These techniques have allowed us to safely capture crocs such as Big Dunc.”
Bindi is not just an excellent conservationist as Steve was, either; she’s an entertainer like him, too. In fact, in 2015 she even won the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars. She’s clearly inherited her dad’s onscreen charisma, then, so who knows what the future might hold. In every way, we’d conclude, Bindi herself is the best living, breathing tribute her much-missed father could have asked for.