“Anyone who has ever heard of Steve Irwin should read (this).”
The Last Crocodile Hunter: A Father & Son Legacy
Bob Irwin with Amanda French
Allen & Unwin AU
‘When the world lost Steve, the animals lost the best friend they ever had, and so did I. But he’s still here with me and knowing that means that I am able to gain strength from him, and harness the same passion and drive that he and I both had together. There are so many people who have been inspired and are still being inspired by Steve Irwin and that makes me feel really, really proud.’ – Bob Irwin
Bob Irwin grew up in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, Australia, where his passion for wildlife and its environment was born. A near-death experience while working as a plumber made Bob realise he needed to follow his dreams, so he and his wife Lyn uprooted their young family and moved to Queensland where they opened a Reptile and Fauna Park on the Sunshine Coast.
Bob’s passion for reptiles grew with his ever expanding collection and he soon became involved with various venom labs, for which he would catch the snakes that were later milked for the production of life-saving anti-venom. Growing up within the Beerwah Reptile & Wildlife Park, and with Lyn caring for orphaned wildlife at home, passion for the environment and all animals was a way of life for the Irwin children. This unique upbringing had a profound impact on his son Steve, who followed in his father’s footsteps and along the way became famous around the world as educator and wildlife warrior, the Crocodile Hunter.
Bob nearly didn’t survive the sudden death of his adored wife Lyn, and could have gone under again when a routine filming session for Steve’s TV show ended in his tragic death in 2006 at the age of 44. In each instance was the natural world and the animals within it which helped Bob to keep going, and since then he has continued to fight for his beloved Steve’s legacy of protecting the wildlife, environment and planet on which our own survival depends.
Entertaining, moving, impassioned and inspiring, The Last Crocodile Hunter goes to the heart and soul of a great Australian character, father and fighter, and raises issues that are crucial to us all.
The Dandenong Ranges in Victoria was where Bob Irwin grew up, and his love of the Australian wildlife and surrounding bush was in him from a very young age. As the years passed, Bob became a plumber and worked with his father. But eventually Bob knew he was no longer happy in his job, so after much discussion with his wife Lyn, in late 1972 they headed for Queensland with the children. The Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park began on just three and a half acres of land; the hard work was done by the family as they slowly built it to where it could be opened to the public. The family survived on the bare minimum as neither Lyn nor Bob had an income, but they had a passionate vision of the future.
Bob and Lyn’s three children, Joy, Steve and Mandy, all shared their parents’ love of wildlife and conservation, but Steve was a sponge, soaking up everything his father taught him and always wanting more. Bob took Steve on his camping trips when they were contracted to remove crocodiles from particular creeks and rivers – Steve loved it. The two of them had a unique relationship; not just father and son, they were best mates as well.
As the Park expanded Australia Zoo was born – Steve’s famous Crocoseum became a world-wide attraction. But all the while, the animals were the top priority – teaching humans about the lives and habitats of the wild animals we live with was Steve and Bob’s ultimate goal. And they made a difference…
The Last Crocodile Hunter is the most comprehensive, interesting and heart wrenching memoir I have ever read. Emotional, profound and deeply moving, Bob Irwin’s words and memories have come to life with the help of Amanda French, who travelled with Bob throughout the outback, visiting old sites he had been to with Steve, chatting and imparting it all around the campfire. A quiet man, never one for the spotlight, son Steve was the complete opposite – they complemented each other well. Now seventy seven years of age, Bob Irwin continues his fight to preserve the legacy left by Steve for the well-being of our planet, the environment but mostly for the animals on it. The Last Crocodile Hunter is a memoir I highly recommend, and one I feel anyone who has ever heard of Steve Irwin should read. I very much enjoyed this 5 star read.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for this copy to read in exchange for my honest review.