Why is Irwin-bashing a national pastime?
Congratulations to Australia Zoo for scooping the pool at this year's Queensland Tourism Awards, held at Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast last Friday night.
The Beerwah based attraction on the Sunshine Coast took out the RACQ's People's Choice award, the Silver in the Best Major Tourist Attraction category and Robert Irwin won the Young Achievers Award, an award his older sister Bindi Irwin also won in 2015.
Terri, Robert and Bindi also showed up to present the Steve Irwin Award for Eco-tourism, won by the excellent Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.
Lady Elliot, by the way, is a wonder, if you ever get the chance to visit, go.
But back to the Irwins - Terri, Bindi and Robert, who have kept Australia Zoo not only going, but have also greatly expanded its wildlife attractions and projects since the death of Terri's husband and Bindi and Robert's father Steve in September 2006.
The death of Steve Irwin, the globally famous "Crocodile Hunter", who died from a stingray's barb to his heart while filming his television show, was also predicted to spell the death of Australia Zoo itself. At least, in some quarters.
I well recall, after Steve's death, a fellow in the newsroom loudly and confidentially predicting the zoo would "be closed within a year."
Steve, he said, was the brains of the outfit, Terri (who in this man's mind, had committed the unforgivable Meghan Markle-esque crime of being American) would go home to the United States, tail between her legs, taking Steve's children with her.
Only she didn't. Because here's the thing about Terri Irwin, and her kids. They don't give up and they always - as they did the other night at the Awards - show up.
They show up at awards like these promoting Queensland tourism, they show up at similar events highlighting Queensland's wonders overseas, they show up at fundraisers for all sorts of wildlife conservation projects all around the world, and they show up - regularly - at the zoo itself.
Thirteen years after Steve's death, it's not uncommon to spot an Irwin or two in one of the enclosures or presenting talks at the zoo's Crocoseum.
The Irwins not only show up at Australia Zoo, welcoming some 700,000 visitors a year, they employ some 510 staff and help inject millions of dollars into the Queensland tourism economy.
They've also, in the past ten years, donated more than $1.5 million dollars to support tiger conservation in South East Asia, created the 135,000 hectare Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Cape York, partnered with Rainforest Rescue to save the endangered Southern Cassowary and financially supported many other conservation projects such as Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, and their own wildlife rescue hospital.
But it's still not enough for some people, the sort of people who like to carry around sharp shears, all the better to cut those tall poppies down with.
The sort of people who have all sorts of opinions about people they have never met. The sort of people who start sentences with "Well, I heard …"
It's a very Australian thing to do, isn't it, this cutting down of those who dare to raise their head above the pulpit.
If the Irwins had indeed moved to America after Steve Irwin's death, their achievements would be universally lauded and celebrated.
Isn't it about time we did the same in their home town?
This family choose to live and work here and Terri Irwin chose to raise her and Steve's children here. These are children who - despite predictions in some quarters bemoaning their upbringing in the public eye - are grounded and polite.
Ask anyone who has spent any time with either Robert or Bindi Irwin and they will tell you what great young people they are. Funny, whip smart, kind, caring and incredibly committed to the conservation of wildlife.
They are a credit to their father and most certainly their mother.
Terri Irwin should be celebrated as the strong woman she is, a single mother, a working mother, a woman who grieved deeply for her husband (and grieves still) then put one foot in front of the other and carried on.
A woman whose children credit with keeping their family unit tight and safe and stable in the face of both public grief, and sometimes public criticism.
So while there are many Queenslanders who appreciate the Irwins and what they have done to put Queensland - and Beerwah, a tiny hinterland town (now known all over the world) on the map, those who are still sharpening their shears should take a leaf out of this family's book.
They should show up, they should create something wonderful, and they should be planting their own poppies, instead of cutting others down.
This Friday, November 15, is the annual Steve Irwin Day, a day Crocodile Hunter friends and fans celebrate someone who cared deeply and who always showed up when it mattered.
If Steve Irwin were here, he'd say the exactly the same thing about his family.