Words by Gabriel Rehmtulla Art by Nicholas Manton
My Superhero – Steve Irwin, you were a legend, an idol to my younger brother and myself. I remember us waiting impatiently for the next episode of The Crocodile Hunter to air so we could see you wrestle another croc or catch another snake, taking us on a wild educational adventure right in our lounge room. We were so impressed by you, that we even had our mum buy us khaki safari shorts and shirts to match, just like the what you used to wear on the show.
Besides being a real life Tarzan, you also set an example for all of us as Australians and as people. You gave us values to live by, that the world can understand and respect.
You taught us how to be compassionate to all beings. Once you said, “I have no fear of losing my life… if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate I will save it.” There is a powerful message for Australia in that statement you made, that beings of all kind around the world deserve to thrive.
We saw you innumerous times, handling many of those deadly or benign creatures that you caught with so much affection, while calling them “a beauty” which reflected your value of love for them and the compassionate nature of your soul.
You showed us how not to be ashamed about what frightens us and encouraged us to look into the eyes of our fears to conquer them. I remember that you said, “…but you know, I probably don’t show fear, but I suffer from fear like everyone else.” For you to say that assured us, telling us that anyone could triumph over their fears.
Furthermore, watching you dive in those muddy waters on top of an angry and enormous crocodile, overpowering it was not only an adrenaline rush, but another great message showing us how to be fearless in life.
“I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message,” you told us.
Unfortunately, this is a skill many people lack today. They either play it safe by learning what is tried and tested, or engage in a profession that they feel will generate the most amount of income which makes them end up in a job which they do not thrive in or sometimes even hate.
However, you taught us the value of finding that one thing in life that you are most passionate about, and to educate yourself in that field with all your might, to never stop learning about it. The importance of identifying something you love to do in life and making that your profession.
“Yeah, I’m a thrill seeker, but crikey, education’s the most important thing,” you told us Steve.
You have left behind a legacy of great Australian values. You have touched so many lives in so many ways by rescuing animals, educating, entertaining kids and adults alike. There will never be another like you.
“Crikey mate,” is exactly what I said, just before a river of tears started pouring out of my eyes. It was sometime in the evening, early in September 2006, as my friend Hailey and I were about to have our sixth and last healthy meal for the day and had the TV running in the background – chatting about random strategies for being healthy. All I remember hearing on the news was something along the lines that it had been confirmed that you were gone.
That Steve Irwin had passed away.
I can still remember looking at my aqua blue plate and tried to think about my food. However, that very moment all my thoughts had gone blank and I just could not turn my head towards the television to see what was being shown. My appetite faded away and then just a faint beacon of hope rose in my heart that this was just one of those hoax news flashes you hear from time to time. But it was true, you had been taken away, much too soon.
You left this world doing what you loved the most – educating and entertaining, spreading your love of wildlife with the world.
You touched us all, your words were filled with warmth and care, “where I live, if someone gives you a hug, it’s from the heart”.
If I was ever given the chance to meet you in person Steve, my childhood hero, I would have given you a big hug from my heart.
I love you Steve,