Thursday, September 21, 2006
9.58am The Australia Zoo staff prepare Steve's beaten-up 4WD for a final journey, loading up gear and forming a guard of honour. The car is driven off through the khaki-clad figures as the crowd clap, cheer and cry. Children throughout the crowd are showing their sadness and confusion at the loss of one of their heroes.
9.52am David Wenham recites a poem by Rupert McCall, "The crocodiles are crying". Includes the lines "We cringed at times - Yes he was a lunatic - may the spotlight shine forever on conservation."
9.50am The rapid-fire speeches are interrupted by a parade of Irwin's elephants. They are fed by a smiling Bindi, Bob, and Terri.
9.46am Crowd goes wild as daughter Bindi approaches the stage. "My Daddy was my hero. He was always there when I needed him . . . We swum together, caught crocodiles together and enjoyed the bush together. When I see a crocodile I will think of him." Her voice is controlled and distinct.
9.45am Environment minister Ian Campbell speaks. "In changing the way we think, he has changed the way we act. The world is a much better place for Steve's all-too-brief stay."
9.39am The video presence continues with tributes from Discovery Channel chief Clark Bunting. Bob Irwin, Steve's father, addresses the crowd: "Please don't grieve for Steve. He's at peace now. But I'd like you to grieve for the animals. They've lost the best friend they ever had, and so have I."
9.35am MC Wiggle Anthony Fields clutches a koala, followed by a clap-along version of "Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees". The atmosphere is steadily becoming more "Steve" as the crowd unwinds.
9.30am - The Crocoseum is heating up under the Queensland sun. Producer John Stainton pays tribute to his colleague and friend as videos of the legend play out. "You could always rely on Steve to get the best shots." Bindi, Bob, and Terri Irwin look on with an empty seat next to them.
9.27am - The Gubbi Gubbi aboriginal people are paying their respects. Eve Fesl gives a traditional farewell in their language.
9.22am - A tribute to Irwin's scientific and environmental achievements. Irwin was involved in tracking experiments for giant salt-water crocs that travelled hundreds of kms out to sea.
9.20am - Another musical interlude here with Daniel McGahan singing in khaki, favourite colour of the Crocodile Hunter. "Crikey" figures in the lyrics.
9.15am - Australia Zoo director Wes Mannion pays emotional tribute to his greatest friend. "I will never forget his beaming smile . . . he made me believe I could do anything. He was a true natural . . . he saved my life . . . I'll miss you mate."
9.10am - John Williamson has sung his tribute True Blue.
9.05am - Prime Minister John Howard begins proceedings with a short speech. "He had that quality of being genuine and authentic, of being unconditional in his enthusiasm . . . there are 20 million pairs of Australian arms reaching out to embrace you this morning."
"He brought to Australians and the world an understanding of nature ... he taught our children in particular to love all creatures great and small." The PM emphasises his love of family and country.
9.03am - "As humble as you are, I know you would be pleased to know the whole world is grieving." With those words, Russell Crowe assured Steve Irwin in a televised cross that he would be remembered.
8.55am - The Sunshine Coast has put on a magnificent day to say goodbye to one of its best-known sons, the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.
8.45am - Queensland Peter Beattie has joined the thousands of people arriving at Australia Zoo to honour the Crocodile Hunter.
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