Irwin Mania in WA

Last week was a memorable one for the people of the Pilbara as Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin, along with fellow Australia Zoo worker Luke, visited us in WA. Community Projects Coordinator Pip Short tells the story.

Day 1

The Irwins came over to present a range of free school and community talks. This amazing opportunity was brought about through our work on the Pilbara Exposed program which is funded through Principal Partner BHP Billiton.

The Irwin’s flew into Port Hedland on Monday evening and were very kindly given complimentary accommodation at the Cooke Point Caravan Park. They were excited to be able to sit on the front porch in the morning and look out over Pretty Pool and see Osprey and other birds of prey soaring through the sky.

Day 2

Tuesday was jam-packed full of school talks with Port Hedland Primary School, combined with St Cecilia’s, being the first stop. Then it was off to Hedland Senior High School where more ‘selfies’ than I could count were taken with Bindi by excited students. Next it was Baler Primary where one family of diehard fans had driven down from Broome to attend the talk at their old school with the kids dressed in their Australia Zoo shirts. The last school for the day was Cassia which also saw children from Rose Nowers Day Care and Cassia Ed Support attend.

In total well over 1000 students were inspired by Bindi’s presentation, that featured highlights from her last trip to Western Australia back in 2003, the Woma Python research work that Australia Zoo are undertaking, and of course a bit about crocs.

Bindi Irwin talk Bindi Irwin talk

That evening well over 500 people attended the event at the Courthouse Gallery Gardens, an absolutely outstanding turnout. Attendees also heard from Martin Dziminiski about the wonderful work that the Department of Parks and Wildlife are undertaking to find out more about our local populations of bilbies. People were educated on what tell-tale signs to look for, who to report the information to, and leart that we have local populations out at Turner River and up at Pardoo.

Day 3

Wednesday saw us all travel out to Newman with a quick stop over at Karajini National Park. The Irwins were blown away by the beauty they saw. Robert got out his camera out and spent an hour happily snapping away before we unfortunately had to get back on the road.

Day 4

Bindi and Robert Irwin Bindi and Robert Irwin

Thursday saw us again talking to the different schools in Newman. This time we started with Newman High School and then moved on to to Newman Primary School – students from South Newman Primary School attended both of these talks as well.

Miss Shelley from Newman Primary School actually used to work at Australia Zoo and is well known for the Steve Irwin Day that she organises every year. Ms Shelley said that she was beyond thrilled to be able to meet Terri, Bindi and Robert and was overwhelmed that they came to the school to talk to the students. “It’s something she will never forget”, she said.

That evening in Newman we held the second free community event at Boomerang Oval. It was another huge success with well over 500 people again attending. In fact Tracey Bennet, Manager of the Newman Visitors Centre, said she thought it was the biggest turn out she has seen in years

“This event has been so great for the town, so many people have come along and supported it and we were absolutely inundated with enquires” she said.

All up, we estimate that over 3500 people were able to meet the Irwins, listen to Bindi and Martin’s talks and be inspired by their passion and enthusiasm.

I was blown away by the response. We honestly didn’t expect the reaction to be as big and as positive as it has been. We’re really happy that so many people came along to these talks and we really hope that people have more appreciation and understanding of our unique local environment.

If you’d like to find out more about the Irwin family’s trip to the Pilbara or about any of our other programs in the area please contact Pip Short at [email protected].