Skip to main content

Steve Irwin

1962 – 2006

Steve Irwin (1962-2006) achieved international fame as the 'Crocodile Hunter'. As a boy, Irwin moved to Queensland with his parents, who started the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park near Caloundra. Having helped in the park from an early age, Irwin worked as a crocodile trapper in North Queensland before returning to take it over, renaming it the Australia Zoo in 1992. That year he married. Footage of his croc-trapping honeymoon became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter, which hatched on American television in 1997 and was soon taken up by the cable giant Animal Planet. In 1999 he made the first of his many appearances on US talk program, the Jay Leno Show. By then, The Crocodile Hunter was broadcast in some 137 countries and Irwin's catchcry 'Crikey!' had become synonymous with Australian zest for life. The feature film Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (2002) grossed $33 million. In 2002 Irwin founded Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, an international animal conservation fund. Locally, over the next few years, he collaborated with The Wiggles on Wiggly Safari, appeared in advertisements for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, was appointed ambassador for the Ghan, and was nominated for Australian of the Year. Irwin died off the coast of Queensland in August 2006 when the barb of a stingray that he was filming pierced his heart. Prime Minister John Howard offered his family a state funeral, which they declined with grace. It is estimated that more than 300 million people worldwide watched his memorial service, at which John Williamson sang Irwin's favourite song, 'True Blue'.

Updated 2018