The Driving Force Behind Wildlife Warrior Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin

Precious memories of her late husband, Steve, travel 
with Terri Irwin, wherever she goes.

What’s your greatest strength?

My determination. I’m passionate about setting goals, achieving success and giving my all to the things I believe in. 

And your greatest weakness?

Procrastination. I’ve improved but when 
I was young, it was hard. I remember my dad suggesting I finish my homework 
on Friday night so I could relax on the weekend. But there I’d be, up until midnight on Sunday, stressing.

What scares you?

Our human-population crisis worries me. Now we’ve eclipsed the seven billion mark, we’re facing the reality of fewer resources being shared by more people.

If you could do any other job, what would it be?

I considered a military career – my dad served in the navy during World War II. 
And I discussed joining the police force – again, my dad was a motorcycle cop. But I landed in wildlife conservation. My job 
in life isn’t so much what I do as who I am.

What virtue do you most admire in people?

Loyalty. I think that’s why we love dogs; they love us unconditionally. I’m blessed to have friends and family who have my back. 

What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?

I’m a licensed pilot. I flew solo for the first time on my 30th birthday.

What is your most treasured possession?

Steve gave me a special birthday card one year. His words were deeply meaningful and whenever I need inspiration, I read it.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?

Sharing a wildlife experience with Bindi and Robert [her children, aged 20 and 14 respectively]. Watching kangaroos moving en masse at sunset in inland Queensland, hearing a lion roar in the African savanna… shared memories are my happiest. 

What travel experience is on your bucket list?

I’d love to show the kids the redwood trees in northern California. They’re among the largest trees in the world. I haven’t seen them since I was a little girl [growing up in Oregon] but I remember the feeling of awe I had standing in those majestic forests.

How do you switch off?

We have a beautiful conservation property in Queensland’s Brigalow Belt. We shared what was to be our last family Christmas there. I remember Steve saying that when life gets difficult, just head for the red-dirt country. As soon as I’m there, I feel at peace.

If you could turn back time, what would you change in your life?

I have to believe that even the most challenging parts of my life helped shape me so I wouldn’t change anything. Steve lived his life revelling in each and every day. Losing him so suddenly has helped me to practise the same.

What is your greatest achievement?

Protecting the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve [on Cape York] from strip mining. It took 
a great deal of our time, effort and money but six years and $3 million later, we did it. This important 135,000 hectares of land is now a Strategic Environmental Area. 

Who is your personal hero and why?

Definitely Steve. When I first met him 
at a tiny roadside zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I’d never heard anyone speak about a dangerous predator [the crocodile] with such love. Together, we invested everything we earned into protecting wildlife. Best of all, he always believed I could do anything I set my mind to. His faith in me stays with me still. 

What would you say is the most Australian thing about you?

I became an Australian in 2009, after living here for more than 17 years. Over the years, I’ve learned what mateship is about. I hope that’s my most Aussie attribute.

Where would we find you at a party?

Having a great conversation with friends, solving all the problems in the world!

If you were down to your last $20, what would you spend it on?

I’d probably end up spending it trying to save something [an animal].

How would you like to be remembered?

"She had fun".

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