How Bob Irwin's life changed forever  following the death of his son Steve


Bob Irwin’s life changed forever after his beloved son, Steve ‘The Crocodile Hunter’, tragically died in 2006 from a freak stingray attack. 

The heartbreaking incident led to the 80-year-old becoming estranged from his grandchildren Bindi and Robert Irwin, quitting Australia Zoo and ultimately living like a ‘recluse’ in a small town called Kingaroy, in the South Burnett Region of Queensland.

Despite once being the patriarch of the Irwin family, last week Bob was forced to attempt to contact Bindi through the media after failing to receive a response to his well-wishes for her upcoming wedding to fiance, Chandler Powell.   

From a loving grandad to a virtual 'recluse': How Bob Irwin's life fell apart after the freak death of his Croc Hunter son - and why the Australia Zoo founder has been 'estranged' from Bindi, Robert and Terri for a decade. Pictured 2017

From a loving grandad to a virtual ‘recluse’: How Bob Irwin’s life fell apart after the freak death of his Croc Hunter son – and why the Australia Zoo founder has been ‘estranged’ from Bindi, Robert and Terri for a decade. Pictured 2017

THE TOLL STEVE’S DEATH TOOK ON HIM

On September 4, 2006, Steve, 44, tragically died after a stingray attack at Batt Reef, near Port Douglas, Queensland. 

As the world mourned, Bob admitted he found himself at a loss as to how to move on with his life without his only son by his side.

‘Once we lost Steve, those were difficult times, and a lot of it all I wanted to forget, I suppose,’ he told ABC’s Australian Story in 2015. 

'Once we lost Steve those were difficult times and a lot of it all I wanted to forget, I suppose,' he admitted on ABC's Australian Story in 2015.  Pictured with his son in early 2000s

‘Once we lost Steve those were difficult times and a lot of it all I wanted to forget, I suppose,’ he admitted on ABC’s Australian Story in 2015.  Pictured with his son in early 2000s

‘I basically buried myself in physical work, I didn’t want anything to do with people. 

‘I had things to get sorted out in my own head and that took a long time to get those sorted out. I didn’t want to be like a hermit because that wasn’t doing me any good.’

Bob had essentially lost his entire immediate family, as six years earlier his wife Lyn died in a car accident in February 2000.  

'I didn't want anything to do with people,' Bob said in 2015 after his son Steve's life was cut tragically short. Pictured: Steve in San Francisco in 2002

‘I didn’t want anything to do with people,’ Bob said in 2015 after his son Steve’s life was cut tragically short. Pictured: Steve in San Francisco in 2002

LEAVING AUSTRALIA ZOO AND LOSING HIS HOME  

In 2008, two years after Steve passed away, it was announced that Bob was resigning from Australia Zoo. 

At the time of his exit, he was accused of having a ‘disruptive influence’ after a difference of opinion on how to run the wildlife precinct, leading to rumours he had been pushed out by his daughter-in-law Terri.

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It was a tragic turn of events for Bob, who first opened the sanctuary with his beloved late wife Lyn in 1970, and went on to be at helm of the zoo for almost four decades. 

Split:  In 2008, two years after Steve passed away, it was announced that Bob was resigning from Australia Zoo. At the time of his exit, he was accused of having a 'disruptive influence' on the business after a difference of opinion on how to run the wildlife precinct, leading to rumours he had been pushed out by daughter-in-law Terri. Pictured: Bob and Terri honouring Steve in 2007

Split:  In 2008, two years after Steve passed away, it was announced that Bob was resigning from Australia Zoo. At the time of his exit, he was accused of having a ‘disruptive influence’ on the business after a difference of opinion on how to run the wildlife precinct, leading to rumours he had been pushed out by daughter-in-law Terri. Pictured: Bob and Terri honouring Steve in 2007 

Prior to his resignation, Bob had transferred full legal ownership to Steve and Terri in 2004, months before he married second wife Judy, but he remained a major part of the business.  

After he stepped away from Australia Zoo, he managed to reach a financial settlement with Terri, allowing him to buy a property and set up his own sanctuary called Camp Chilli near Kingaroy – named after Bob and his son’s favourite camping spot along Cattle Creek near Ingham.  

He also left Australia Zoo’s Ironbark Station sanctuary at Blackbutt, Queensland, where he had previously been living. 

End of an era: It was a tragic turn of events for Bob, who first opened the sanctuary with his beloved late wife Lyn in 1970, and went on to be at helm of the zoo for almost four decades

End of an era: It was a tragic turn of events for Bob, who first opened the sanctuary with his beloved late wife Lyn in 1970, and went on to be at helm of the zoo for almost four decades

BECOMING A ‘RECLUSE’ AND ‘DISTANCING’ HIMSELF FROM FAMILY

It wasn’t long before Bob lost contact with his grandchildren. 

In 2016, Bindi claimed it was her grandfather who cut ties with the rest of the family. 

‘Everyone deals with grief differently. When my dad passed away he chose to distance himself from everything that dad loved most,’ she told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘At the moment, we’re really just respecting his wishes because he hasn’t had anything to do with us for a long time and he decided his own path. That’s important so good for him.’

According to recent reports, Bob has not seen his grandchildren in ten years. 

Sad: In 2016, Bindi claimed it was her grandfather who cut off contact with the rest of the family. 'Everyone deals with grief differently. When my dad passed away he chose to distance himself from everything that dad loved most,' she told Daily Mail Australia

Sad: In 2016, Bindi claimed it was her grandfather who cut off contact with the rest of the family. ‘Everyone deals with grief differently. When my dad passed away he chose to distance himself from everything that dad loved most,’ she told Daily Mail Australia 

URGING PEOPLE TO STAY AWAY FROM CAMP CHILLI

In recent years, Bob has focused all of his time and energy on Camp Chilli.

But while Australia Zoo welcomes tourists from around the world, Bob urges people to stay away from his 259 hectare bush property. 

‘We don’t encourage people to come here,’ Bob said, with recent reports claiming he ‘rarely leaves his home’ anymore and has become somewhat of a recluse. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, after setting up Camp Chilli with his second wife Judy, Bob spent one winter ‘living in a tent through the cold winter.’ 

Solace: In recent years, Bob has focused his time and energy on his own sanctuary Camp Chilli

Solace: In recent years, Bob has focused his time and energy on his own sanctuary Camp Chilli

'We don't encourage people to come here': But while Australia Zoo welcomes tourists from around the world, Bob urges people to stay away from his 259 hectare bush property

‘We don’t encourage people to come here’: But while Australia Zoo welcomes tourists from around the world, Bob urges people to stay away from his 259 hectare bush property

SPEAKING TO STEVE BEYOND THE GRAVE AND HIS DAY-TO-DAY LIFE NOW

Occasionally Bob is spotted in the town of Kingaroy running errands, but he mostly stays put on his sprawling property. 

In 2017, he admitted he still speaks to his late son Steve from beyond the grave, especially ‘if he’s having a hard day and things aren’t going all that well’.

‘I’ll go into a meditative state and I may talk to Steve. He gives a little bit of advice here and there. I’d rather keep those things to myself,’ he explained. 

Retired: Occasionally, Bob is spotted in the nearby town of Kingaroy, but he mostly spends his days on his land. Pictured: Bob and Steve in early 2000s

Retired: Occasionally, Bob is spotted in the nearby town of Kingaroy, but he mostly spends his days on his land. Pictured: Bob and Steve in early 2000s

Now officially retired, he spends his days tending to his miniature horse Samson and bush walking. 

He has said he is not a social person –  he has only only tried alcohol once as a teenager and admitted that travelling and attending media events ‘wears him down’. 

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Bob also revealed his home gets no mobile phone reception, and he drinks 15 cups of Bushells tea a day. 

‘Water is for showering,’ he explained to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2016. 

Quiet life: Bob previously revealed his delight that his home gets no mobile phone reception and that he drinks 15 cups of Bushells tea a day

Quiet life: Bob previously revealed his delight that his home gets no mobile phone reception and that he drinks 15 cups of Bushells tea a day

FAMILY ‘FEUD’ OVER BINDI’S UPCOMING WEDDING 

Upon hearing her happy engagement news, Bob sent his granddaughter Bindi and fiance Chandler a handwritten letter expressing his well-wishes. 

He told the Courier Mail last week that he’s yet to receive a response, with a ‘feud’ stemming from a misunderstanding after a reporter recently walked onto his property hoping to get a comment on what he thought about the engagement. 

When Bob refused to answer, it was mistakenly taken as a begrudged silence, and photos of him at his home were also splashed in the paper only fueling the false impression he was unhappy with the planned marriage. 

Reaching out: In July, Bob sent Bindi and fiance Chandler a handwritten letter expressing his well-wishes after presumably learning of their engagement through the media

Reaching out: In July, Bob sent Bindi and fiance Chandler a handwritten letter expressing his well-wishes after presumably learning of their engagement through the media

Even though he hasn’t received a response or an invite to the wedding, Bob said he wishes the young couple all the best.

‘I want (Bindi and Robert, 15) to be able to do what they want from day to day, enjoy life, enjoy the animals, achieve things, without worrying about things that should never be presented to them (like that article),’ he said.

‘Much the same as any other parent or grandparent, I would wish (Bindi and Chandler) all the best – which I do – and hope things go really, really well.’ 

Drama: He told the Courier Mail last week that he's yet to receive a response, with a 'feud' stemming from a misunderstanding after a reporter walked onto his property hoping to get a few comments on what he thought about the engagement

Drama: He told the Courier Mail last week that he’s yet to receive a response, with a ‘feud’ stemming from a misunderstanding after a reporter walked onto his property hoping to get a few comments on what he thought about the engagement

Approving: When Bob refused to answer, it was mistakenly taken as a begrudged silence and photos of him at his home were also splashed in the paper, only fueling the false impression he was unhappy with the planned marriage

Approving: When Bob refused to answer, it was mistakenly taken as a begrudged silence and photos of him at his home were also splashed in the paper, only fueling the false impression he was unhappy with the planned marriage 

 



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