It had been planned for months. Student day time TV had got me well into The Crocodile Hunter and I watched it every day while I was hanging out at my friend’s house in Bondi. I was so excited to potentially catch a glimpse of the big man in action. Then a week before the planned visit to Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin died. A stingray barb to the heart had finished him off.
I was in Cairns at the time, staying with my friend who was working at the Cairns Base Hospital when he was brought in. She said the place went insane with his imminent arrival – well he was one of the most famous Australians worldwide at the time. When I made it to the zoo in Brisbane a week later, tributes flanked the gates – posters, tshirts, letters, flags, crocodiles – as far as the eye could see. I realised how completely loved he was in Australia. At the end of my time inside the zoo gates I understood just how much he had done to help and promote Australia’s incredible wildlife. And how much he would be missed.