Turning 80 next year, quietly spoken Bob Irwin, has only one wish before it’s too late, and that’s to sit down with his estranged grandchildren Robert Irwin and Bindi Irwin and share his precious stories about their much loved dad.
“It’s time the rift was mended,” shares one close friend.
“Regardless of the bad blood between Terri and Bob, those two kids need to sit down with their grandfather and allow him to pass over to them their father’s great legacy, to tell them about the Steve he knew and loved.”
“They should all be on the same page, and if they’re true wildlife warriors, then these stories and anecdotes from their father in his younger years are precious Irwin family memories.”
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“Bob doesn’t want to go to his grave with bitterness – and he doesn’t want them to live with regrets.”
“They’ve reached out on social media to both kids,” another friend says.
“It’s not something Bob asked us to do or even would have wanted us to do but it breaks all our hearts to see how much he pines for those kids.”
Bob declined to speak about his feud with Terri or his estrangement from Robert and Bindi when contacted by Woman’s Day last week, but his friends insist he’s consumed with the hope he may see them again before he dies.
And with Bob last month announcing he was retiring as the head of the Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation, friends worry that time is running out to heal the family feud which has raged ever since he quit Australia Zoo a decade ago.
“If Steve’s mum Lyn, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2000 was alive today, none of this would’ve happened,” explains his mate, who says Bob’s second wife Judy also wants to see a reconciliation.
“We hope that Bob waves the white flag and Bindi and Robert knock on their granddad’s door. I know he would always welcome them back into his life.”
In Bob Irwin’s autobiography, The Last Crocodile Hunter – a Father and Son Legacy, published two years ago, he revealed how much he missed Robert and Bindi, but still watched over them from afar.
“While I haven’t seen them for a number of years, I will always feel proud standing on the sidelines and watching them succeed at whatever path they choose to follow,” he said in the book.
“Steve was the proudest dad going around. Above all else, even wildlife, his favourite job was bringing into the world his two kids. It was the most important job in the world to him. His family always came first.
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“It’s a profound time in their lives now because they are old enough to understand all those things their dad instilled in them – things that I had instilled in my boy before he was taken from us far too early.
Bob’s mate says he takes huge pride in seeing how accomplished Robert and Bindi have become in the 10 years since he last spoke to them.
“He’s not getting any younger, and to see Bindi with a lovely young man like (her boyfriend) Chandler Powell who it appears is also very much into wildlife conservation; to see Robert embracing wildlife photography with such passion, they’re the things as a grandfather he’s most proud of,” the mate says.
For now, Bob lives for the day his two long missing grandchildren walk back into his life – even if it’s for the very last time.
“I suspect he wants to be remembered as that old bloke who fought and worked tirelessly to preserve a world that is safe for many more Irwin generations,” his mate says.