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Real Life

CRIKEY! "My husband is a Steve Irwin impersonator"

Tracey, 38, shares what it's like being married to the Croc Hunter's biggest fan!

By Courtney GReatrex

Tracey Western, 38, Tanah Merah, Qld shares her story:

I held the phone steady as my husband, Shayne, 44, crouched on the floor wearing a khaki shirt 
and shorts.
"Action," I giggled as 
I pressed record on the camera and he launched 
into his character.
"Crikey, get a load of this little beauty!" he whispered, pointing towards the specimen – a recycling bin.
Out of the shot, my son was holding the lid open with some fishing wire, while Shayne started wrestling with the bin.
Unable to hold it in anymore, I burst into hysterical laughter.
"Sorry, go again," I said, trying my best to wipe the smile from my face.
As a bank teller and 
a mum of two kids, I wasn't exactly a documentary filmmaker, but I was giving 
it my best shot.
For the past couple of weeks, Shayne had been dressing up as the crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin and pretending rubbish bins in our local neighbourhood were salties.
Ever since we met 19 years ago, my husband had been 
a larrikin, always looking to make people smile.
When I was 19, Shayne worked at the local Red Rooster with my best friend.
Whenever I got the chance, I'd pop in for some chips 
and a chat.
As the months rolled 
by, Shayne and I got to 
know each other and eventually started 
to date.
He even came to visit me and my family on a camping trip where he bought me lunch.
"You're a sweetie aren't you?" I said with a smile.
For the next six years, 
we enjoyed each other's company.
Throughout our relationship, Shayne had always been obsessed with Steve Irwin, catching episodes of the Crocodile Hunter whenever he had 
free time.
One year, he was invited to a birthday party while I was away, and he bought a shorts and shirt set in khaki, to dress up as his hero.
Hiding in the bushes, 
he'd jump out and start commentating everything 
in Steve's distinct voice.
"Would ya take a look at this beautiful specimen," he'd say as people arrived.
A few years later, on Shayne's 30th birthday, 
I rallied all our friends 
and family together.
Shayne started wrestling with the bin. Image: Facebook
But during his speech, 
he got down on one knee beside me.
"Tracey, I love you so much," he said. "Would 
you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"
I couldn't believe he'd proposed in front of so many people, but I wrapped my arms around him
"Yes!" I cried.
He put the engagement ring on the wrong finger, which got a real laugh from the crowd.
The next year, we tied the knot and it wasn't long before 
I fell pregnant with our son Harrison, now 12.
He was 
even born on 
the day of our wedding anniversary.
When news broke that Steve Irwin had died after being pierced in the chest 
by a stingray barb, Shayne was gutted.
But as the years rolled by, he carried on the legacy, impersonating his hero to make others smile.
He even upgraded his costume to incorporate a blonde wig that resembled Steve's mop-like hair and created the pseudonym Shayneo Irbin.
Over the years, Shayne 
has got kids in the region involved in the cricket club, and raised money for charity.
He is inspired by his hero Steve Irwin. Image: Facebook
When COVID-19 took hold, it was heartbreaking to see so many people being devastated by the virus.
But watching the news, we saw a woman in Queensland had gone viral for creating the 'bin outing' craze, where people dressed up in costumes to take out the bins.
"I've gotta get involved in this," Shayne said excitedly.
He decided to pretend the bin was a croc and do a documentary-style skit about them.
"Will you film it for me?" he asked.
"Sure," I said, unsure what 
I was getting myself into.
That night, he threw on the costume and immediately went into Steve Irwin mode.
As he crouched down on his knee and impersonated the crocodile hunter, I couldn't help but giggle from behind the camera.
It took a couple of takes to get it right.
Shayne 
loves to 
make people smile Image: Facebook
When he posted it on Facebook an hour later, we couldn't believe the reaction.
This is hilarious! Friends and family commented.
As the weeks went by, the videos got more silly and elaborate – with one, he pretended that the bin crocodile ate him.
He even roped Harrison into helping out.
It was great to 
get the family all together and involved in the fun.
When Shayne is out of character, he's the greatest dad and husband anyone could ask for, always wanting to make people smile.
While I might not dress up in khaki, preferring to work behind the camera, I'll always be the 'Terri' to Shayne's Steve.

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