CELEBRITY

“My biggest inspiration” Robert Irwin shares sweet tribute to his late father Steve Irwin

"He was just the most devoted dad in the world. Really was."
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Robert Irwin has shared a sweet tribute to his father Steve Irwin.

Taking to Instagram, the 20-year-old posted a photo of the Crocodile Hunter holding, as one follower put it, “his most famous catch yet” – Robert as a baby.

“Thanks for always being my biggest inspiration through life, love you Dad,” Robert captioned the sweet image.

steve irwin holding robert irwin as a baby
Robert shared this throwback photo of Steve. (Credit: Instagram)

There is no denying that Robert is his father’s son – in looks, personality, and his unwavering love of wildlife and the natural world.

Carrying on the late Steve Irwin’s legacy is no easy feat, but for the 20-year-old, his passion for conservation and protecting threatened environments and species comes naturally.

Appearing on the Jess Rowe Big Talk Show podcast earlier in the year, the I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! host opened up about Steve being a father figure not only to him, but to people across the globe.

“Whether it’s through death, whatever circumstance it is, people will say, ‘I grew up without a father figure and your dad, Robert, was a father figure to me,” a visibly emotional Rob recounted. 

“What an amazing thing. What an incredible person that he had such energy, a powerful energy. He was like a father figure for an entire generation. That is such a beautiful thing. And it makes me emotional, even now.

“I lucked out. I really lucked out big time,” he added. 

“He was just the most devoted dad in the world. Really was.”

robert irwin in grey blazer appearing on jess rowe talk show
Rob became teary eyed as he spoke about his father. (Credit: LiSTNR)

Only weeks earlier, Rob made several candid comments in an interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly about missing his dad.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think: ‘Gosh, I wonder what I’d ask Dad if he was here’,” he mused. 

“When you lose someone, a father figure, at such a young age, who is such a commanding presence of positivity and everything that is good in the world, of course all I want is for him to be here for me; to go, ‘What do you think about this, what do you think about that?’

“There are so many things I wish I could ask him on so many levels.”

steve irwin wearing khaki and a cap on a beach and robert irwin wearing khaki and a cap on the beach
Rob is determined to follow in his father’s footsteps. (Credit: Instagram)

Just two months prior, Rob was named as GQ’s Social Force of the Year.

“It’s weird, even though I’ve literally been born into it… it still doesn’t make sense,” Rob said in an interview with the publication. 

His contributions to wildlife conservation are what secured him this title.

In the interviewRob reflected on what his dad was doing at his age.

“He’d been spending months at a time out in the bush, rescuing crocs, honing his craft, his skills, and then becoming, you know, the most well-known wildlife conservationist in history,

“He’s not around anymore to push his message,” he added. “Now it’s my job.”

“When you lose someone like that and it’s such a public thing—you’re three years old, you’re growing up without a father—it’s incredibly difficult. It is indescribably difficult.

robert irwin young and steve irwin young
Robert is the spitting image of Steve. (Credit: Instagram/Australia Zoo)

“But on the other side of that, now, when people come up to me and share a story of when they met Dad, tell me how much his documentary meant to them, I almost feel like I get a little piece of him back.”

The wildlife warrior has also made a point of carving out his own path, finding new ways to connect with the late Crocodile Hunter by bringing his passion for conservation and photography together. 

“You know, all my life all I’ve ever wanted was to be exactly like Dad, but also to find my own place in his world,” he shared in a December 2023 interview with The Courier Mail. 

“I was just itching to find that place and photography gave me that. But it also gave me a connection to Dad and a purpose.”

In 2022, Robert released his first photography book titled Robert Irwin’s Australia, to critical acclaim. 

According to the 20-year-old, pursuing photography was another means of advancing his father’s legacy. 

“Everything he did, everything he recorded, everything he documented, well, it kind of stopped, and it stopped abruptly, which is what happens when someone dies unexpectedly,” he shared. 

steve irwin feeding a crocodile at Australia Zoo, and robert irwin feeding a crocodile at australia zoo
Like father, like son. (Credit: Instagram/Australia Zoo)

“And this is one of my ways of continuing his work.”

This isn’t the first time Robert has reflected upon his hopes for the future, and his dreams for the future to keep Steve’s incredible legacy alive. 

“I think what dad really showed the world was, of course, to have that appreciation for the natural world and to treat every living being on this planet as you would wish to be treated,” the teenager told E! News in October 2022.

“I think that’s something that I’ll always carry with me,” he added. 

steve irwin with blood on his face and robert irwin with blood on his face
Like Steve, Robert often puts himself on the line when it comes to handling wildlife. (Credit: Instagram)

Robert, who was only two years old when his father tragically died, said that the extraordinary way Steve lived his life inspired him. 

“I think that more than anything, I would hope that I really continue this message that life is short and we have to live every day to the fullest,” he shared. 

“I’ll always just feel so lucky that I had the most amazing dad in the world, who was literally a superhero.”

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