The Irwin feud: How Australia’s first family has been torn apart since Steve’s death

They may be one of Australia’s most famous families.

But behind Terri, Bindi and Robert’s wholesome TV-friendly brand lies a bitter feud that has been raging for more than a decade. 

The Irwin family rift was laid bare overnight after Bindi, 22, sensationally accused her estranged grandfather Bob Snr of ‘ignoring her’ since she was a child.

Inside the Irwin family feud: Behind Terri, Bindi and Robert's wholesome TV-friendly brand lies a bitter rift that has been raging for more than a decade

Inside the Irwin family feud: Behind Terri, Bindi and Robert's wholesome TV-friendly brand lies a bitter rift that has been raging for more than a decade

Inside the Irwin family feud: Behind Terri, Bindi and Robert’s wholesome TV-friendly brand lies a bitter rift that has been raging for more than a decade

Pictured: the Irwin family tree, including who sides with Bindi and who sides with Bob Snr

Pictured: the Irwin family tree, including who sides with Bindi and who sides with Bob Snr

Pictured: the Irwin family tree, including who sides with Bindi and who sides with Bob Snr

She has since been publicly condemned by two cousins and a family friend, all of whom describe Bob as a kind and caring man.

The dogfight comes after years of simmering tensions between the opposing factions of the Irwin clan – those who side with Terri, and those who don’t.

How the family feud began  

The Irwins were once close-knit, working together at the family-run Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

However, everything changed when Steve Irwin – known to millions around the world as the Crocodile Hunter – was killed by a stingray barb in September 2006.

How they were: The Irwins were once close-knit, working together at the family-run Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Pictured: Bob Snr with his children Mandy, Joy and Steve, Steve's wife Terri, and their two children Bindi and Robert

How they were: The Irwins were once close-knit, working together at the family-run Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Pictured: Bob Snr with his children Mandy, Joy and Steve, Steve's wife Terri, and their two children Bindi and Robert

How they were: The Irwins were once close-knit, working together at the family-run Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Pictured: Bob Snr with his children Mandy, Joy and Steve, Steve’s wife Terri, and their two children Bindi and Robert 

Family feud: Everything changed when Steve Irwin - known to millions around the world as the Crocodile Hunter - was killed by a stingray barb in September 2006. Pictured from left: Terri, Robert, Bindi and Steve Irwin at Australia Zoo in April 2004

Family feud: Everything changed when Steve Irwin - known to millions around the world as the Crocodile Hunter - was killed by a stingray barb in September 2006. Pictured from left: Terri, Robert, Bindi and Steve Irwin at Australia Zoo in April 2004

Family feud: Everything changed when Steve Irwin – known to millions around the world as the Crocodile Hunter – was killed by a stingray barb in September 2006. Pictured from left: Terri, Robert, Bindi and Steve Irwin at Australia Zoo in April 2004

Steve’s father Bob founded Beerwah Reptile Park – now known as Australia Zoo – in 1970 with his wife Lyn. 

He handed ownership of the park to Steve and his wife Terri in 2004, but remained involved in the business.

However, two years after Steve’s death, Bob Snr abruptly left the park after reportedly falling out with Terri about how the business should be run. 

Falling out: Two years after Steve's death, Bob Snr abruptly left Australia Zoo - which he'd founded in 1970 - after reportedly falling out with Terri about how the business should be run. Pictured: Terri, Bob Snr, Bindi and Robert attending Steve's memorial service in 2006

Falling out: Two years after Steve's death, Bob Snr abruptly left Australia Zoo - which he'd founded in 1970 - after reportedly falling out with Terri about how the business should be run. Pictured: Terri, Bob Snr, Bindi and Robert attending Steve's memorial service in 2006

Falling out: Two years after Steve’s death, Bob Snr abruptly left Australia Zoo – which he’d founded in 1970 – after reportedly falling out with Terri about how the business should be run. Pictured: Terri, Bob Snr, Bindi and Robert attending Steve’s memorial service in 2006

Moving on: After leaving Australia Zoo in 2008 following an alleged dispute with daughter-in-law Terri over the direction of the company, he bought a secluded property near Kingaroy, now known as Camp Chilli - named after Steve's favourite camping spot

Moving on: After leaving Australia Zoo in 2008 following an alleged dispute with daughter-in-law Terri over the direction of the company, he bought a secluded property near Kingaroy, now known as Camp Chilli - named after Steve's favourite camping spot

Moving on: After leaving Australia Zoo in 2008 following an alleged dispute with daughter-in-law Terri over the direction of the company, he bought a secluded property near Kingaroy, now known as Camp Chilli – named after Steve’s favourite camping spot

Bob Snr later reached a financial settlement which allowed him to buy a property near Kingaroy, now known as Camp Chilli – named after Steve’s favourite camping spot along Cattle Creek near Ingham.

Bob has been estranged from Terri and her children ever since. 

Terri cuts ties with her sister-in-law’s family

Steve Irwin’s older sister Joy and her family were also once heavily involved in the running of Australia Zoo. 

While Joy oversaw the food court, her husband Frank was the general manager.

Rift: In 2015, Terri reportedly fired her brother-in-law Frank Muscillo (left) from his job as general manager of Australia Zoo. His wife Joy (right), who is Steve's sister, and her adult children left their jobs at the zoo soon afterwards

Rift: In 2015, Terri reportedly fired her brother-in-law Frank Muscillo (left) from his job as general manager of Australia Zoo. His wife Joy (right), who is Steve's sister, and her adult children left their jobs at the zoo soon afterwards

Rift: In 2015, Terri reportedly fired her brother-in-law Frank Muscillo (left) from his job as general manager of Australia Zoo. His wife Joy (right), who is Steve’s sister, and her adult children left their jobs at the zoo soon afterwards

But in 2015, Frank was reportedly ‘marched off’ the property after being fired by Terri – with Joy and her adult children leaving soon afterwards. 

Ms Muscillo told Daily Mail Australia in 2019 the rift was a ‘very sad’ situation.

‘I keep away from all that,’ she said. ‘It’s just very sad… family stuff.’

'It's just very sad... family stuff': Joy Muscillo told Daily Mail Australia in 2019 the rift was a 'very sad' situation. Pictured: Bob and Steve Irwin in an undated photo

'It's just very sad... family stuff': Joy Muscillo told Daily Mail Australia in 2019 the rift was a 'very sad' situation. Pictured: Bob and Steve Irwin in an undated photo

‘It’s just very sad… family stuff’: Joy Muscillo told Daily Mail Australia in 2019 the rift was a ‘very sad’ situation. Pictured: Bob and Steve Irwin in an undated photo

Mrs Muscillo, who now runs a restaurant with her husband, today leads a quiet life worlds away from the glitz and glamour of her sister-in-law, niece and nephew. 

After leaving the zoo, she said she was bound to a confidentiality agreement that prevented her from speaking about what had happened.

While the agreement has expired, she said it remained a ‘personal decision’ to keep her family situation private.

Bindi’s strained relationship with Bob Snr

Bob Snr first spoke about his fractured relationship with granddaughter Bindi in 2015, telling The Herald Sun they’d lost contact over the years.  

‘I don’t like to talk about family matters but no we are not in contact,’ he said. ‘It’s sad but it’s just the way things are.’

'It's sad but it's just the way things are': Bob Snr first spoke about his fractured relationship with granddaughter Bindi in 2015, telling The Herald Sun they'd lost contact over the years

'It's sad but it's just the way things are': Bob Snr first spoke about his fractured relationship with granddaughter Bindi in 2015, telling The Herald Sun they'd lost contact over the years

‘It’s sad but it’s just the way things are’: Bob Snr first spoke about his fractured relationship with granddaughter Bindi in 2015, telling The Herald Sun they’d lost contact over the years

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia at the 2015 AACTA Awards, Bindi claimed her grandfather had become reclusive in the years following his son’s death. 

‘Everyone deals with grief differently. When my dad passed away he chose to distance himself from everything that dad loved the most,’ she said. 

‘At the moment we’re really just respecting his wishes because he hasn’t had anything to do with us for a long time and he decided his own path. That’s important, so good for him.’

'He chose to distance himself': Speaking to Daily Mail Australia at the 2015 AACTA Awards, Bindi claimed her grandfather had become reclusive in the years following his son's death

'He chose to distance himself': Speaking to Daily Mail Australia at the 2015 AACTA Awards, Bindi claimed her grandfather had become reclusive in the years following his son's death

‘He chose to distance himself’: Speaking to Daily Mail Australia at the 2015 AACTA Awards, Bindi claimed her grandfather had become reclusive in the years following his son’s death 

Wedding bells: Bindi's estrangement from Bob Snr made headlines again in July 2019, after she became engaged to her now-husband Chandler Powell (left)

Wedding bells: Bindi's estrangement from Bob Snr made headlines again in July 2019, after she became engaged to her now-husband Chandler Powell (left)

Wedding bells: Bindi’s estrangement from Bob Snr made headlines again in July 2019, after she became engaged to her now-husband Chandler Powell (left) 

Bindi’s estrangement from Bob Snr made headlines again in July 2019, after she became engaged to her now-husband Chandler Powell.

At the time, Bob Snr told the Courier Mail he had not received a response since writing a letter of congratulations to his granddaughter.

He claimed their latest dispute stemmed from a misunderstanding after a reporter walked onto his property hoping to get a comment on what he thought of the engagement. 

Radio silence: At the time, Bob Snr told the Courier Mail he had not received a response since writing a letter of congratulations to his granddaughter

Radio silence: At the time, Bob Snr told the Courier Mail he had not received a response since writing a letter of congratulations to his granddaughter

Radio silence: At the time, Bob Snr told the Courier Mail he had not received a response since writing a letter of congratulations to his granddaughter 

When Mr Irwin refused to answer, it was mistakenly taken as a begrudged silence. Photos of him at his home were also splashed across the tabloids, only fuelling the false impression that he was unhappy with the upcoming marriage. 

He said he wasn’t invited to the wedding, and didn’t expect to be.

‘If they wanted to, of course I would,’ he said. 

‘I get messages [from friends] constantly about how Bob and Bindi are doing, what achievements they’ve made, what interests they have, and I also watch television like everyone else.

Fuming: Bindi addressed her estrangement from Bob on Sunday, posting a scathing Facebook comment claiming the ageing conservationist had 'never said a single kind word' to her and even 'returned gifts' she'd sent him

Fuming: Bindi addressed her estrangement from Bob on Sunday, posting a scathing Facebook comment claiming the ageing conservationist had 'never said a single kind word' to her and even 'returned gifts' she'd sent him

Fuming: Bindi addressed her estrangement from Bob on Sunday, posting a scathing Facebook comment claiming the ageing conservationist had ‘never said a single kind word’ to her and even ‘returned gifts’ she’d sent him

‘They keep me up to date. Both Bindi and Bob have achieved a lot in a short space of time; mind you, they’re both only young yet. But they’ve done well and I would say Steve would be pretty happy with the way they’re doing.’

Bob Snr was not in attendance on Bindi’s wedding day in March 2020.

Bindi addressed her estrangement from Bob on Sunday, posting a scathing Facebook comment claiming the ageing conservationist had ‘never said a single kind word’ to her and even ‘returned gifts’ she’d sent him. 

Thankful: Bindi had commented on a sweet Father's Day post celebrating the 'three most incredible fathers in her life'

Thankful: Bindi had commented on a sweet Father's Day post celebrating the 'three most incredible fathers in her life'

Thankful: Bindi had commented on a sweet Father’s Day post celebrating the ‘three most incredible fathers in her life’ 

Response: When a fan asked why she hadn't included her grandfather in her Father's Day post, Bindi gave an uncharacteristically raw account of their relationship. Pictured with Terri, Robert and Bob Snr in 2007, one year after Steve's death

Response: When a fan asked why she hadn't included her grandfather in her Father's Day post, Bindi gave an uncharacteristically raw account of their relationship. Pictured with Terri, Robert and Bob Snr in 2007, one year after Steve's death

Response: When a fan asked why she hadn’t included her grandfather in her Father’s Day post, Bindi gave an uncharacteristically raw account of their relationship. Pictured with Terri, Robert and Bob Snr in 2007, one year after Steve’s death

Bindi had uploaded sweet post celebrating Father’s Day in the USA, saying she was thankful for the ‘three most incredible fathers in her life’: her late father Steve Irwin, her husband Chandler Powell and her father-in-law Chris. 

When a fan asked why she hadn’t included her grandfather, Bindi gave an uncharacteristically raw account of their relationship, claiming he’d ignored her since she was a ‘little girl’. 

The mother of one wrote: ‘I really wish that my entire family could spend time with [her newborn daughter] Grace. Unfortunately, my grandfather Bob has shown no interest in spending time with me or my family.’

Speaking out: The mother of one wrote, 'I really wish that my entire family could spend time with Grace. Unfortunately, my grandfather Bob has shown no interest in spending time with me or my family'

Speaking out: The mother of one wrote, 'I really wish that my entire family could spend time with Grace. Unfortunately, my grandfather Bob has shown no interest in spending time with me or my family'

Speaking out: The mother of one wrote, ‘I really wish that my entire family could spend time with Grace. Unfortunately, my grandfather Bob has shown no interest in spending time with me or my family’

She went on to claim that Bob Snr had ‘returned gifts I’ve sent after he opened them’, and ignored any letters sent from her.  

‘From the time I was a little girl he has ignored me, preferring to spend time doing anything else rather than being with me,’ she continued.

‘He has never said a single kind word to me personally. It breaks my heart.’

She went on to say that her mother Terri still writes to him and sends birthday cards and Christmas gifts, but claims they have received no reply.

Strained: 'He has never said a single kind word to me personally. It breaks my heart.' Bindi claims. Pictured: Bob holding a photograph of Bindi in 2008

Strained: 'He has never said a single kind word to me personally. It breaks my heart.' Bindi claims. Pictured: Bob holding a photograph of Bindi in 2008

Strained: ‘He has never said a single kind word to me personally. It breaks my heart.’ Bindi claims. Pictured: Bob holding a photograph of Bindi in 2008

‘We have also been his financial support since 1992 when he returned from Australia Zoo, sending him funds every week,’ she added. 

‘We built him a house on a beautiful property and will always do our best to ensure his wellbeing. 

‘I hope everyone remembers to be kind to one another but most of all care for your own mental health. 

‘I have struggled with this relationship my entire life and it brings me enormous pain.’ 

'We have also been his financial support since 1992 when he returned from Australia Zoo, sending him funds every week,' she added. Pictured: Bob Irwin and wife Judy in 2008

'We have also been his financial support since 1992 when he returned from Australia Zoo, sending him funds every week,' she added. Pictured: Bob Irwin and wife Judy in 2008

‘We have also been his financial support since 1992 when he returned from Australia Zoo, sending him funds every week,’ she added. Pictured: Bob Irwin and wife Judy in 2008

The estrangement of Steve’s nieces   

Bob Snr has yet to publicly respond to the accusations Bindi levelled against him on Sunday. 

However, two of Bindi’s cousins have spoken up in his defence. 

Bethany Wheeler, another granddaughter of Bob’s by marriage, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday: ‘The time has come to speak up.’  

Breaking her silence: Bethany Wheeler (second from left), another granddaughter of Bob's (left) by marriage, wrote on Facebook on Sunday:  'The time has come to speak up... We have all felt sick reading [this] for too long.' Pictured: Ms Wheeler at her wedding to husband Wayne

Breaking her silence: Bethany Wheeler (second from left), another granddaughter of Bob's (left) by marriage, wrote on Facebook on Sunday:  'The time has come to speak up... We have all felt sick reading [this] for too long.' Pictured: Ms Wheeler at her wedding to husband Wayne

Breaking her silence: Bethany Wheeler (second from left), another granddaughter of Bob’s (left) by marriage, wrote on Facebook on Sunday:  ‘The time has come to speak up… We have all felt sick reading [this] for too long.’ Pictured: Ms Wheeler at her wedding to husband Wayne

‘I read some absolutely appalling comments by Bindi today! Feel free to share this post (I will make it public) as we have all been silent… for too long,’ she wrote.

Ms Wheeler, whose stepmother Mandy is Bob’s daughter, defended her grandfather’s character, calling him ‘one of the most genuinely beautiful humans on this planet’ who has ‘never spoken out or put down anybody’.

‘He is a man who sits silently and battles his demons alone, in what is great sadness. He doesn’t retaliate, only prays for his grandchildren’s safety and good lives,’ she continued. 

Lashing out: Bob's other granddaughter Toni Johnstone also claimed Steve would be 'furious' about his daughter's accusations if he were alive today

Lashing out: Bob's other granddaughter Toni Johnstone also claimed Steve would be 'furious' about his daughter's accusations if he were alive today

Lashing out: Bob’s other granddaughter Toni Johnstone also claimed Steve would be ‘furious’ about his daughter’s accusations if he were alive today

Meanwhile, Bob’s other granddaughter Toni Johnstone also claimed Steve would be ‘furious’ about his daughter’s accusations if he were alive today.

Commenting on Facebook, Ms Johnstone wrote: ‘I honestly cannot believe how [Bindi] can [accuse Bob of these things] and then preach ‘let’s be kind to one another’ in the same post.’ 

Ms Johnstone, whose mother Mandy is Steve’s sister, added: ‘Let’s hope [Bindi and Terri] remember who built the zoo that made them who they are today.’

Confused: Ms Johnstone said she was 'puzzled' as to why Bindi would make such 'horrible' claims about Bob. Pictured from left: Robert, Terri and Bindi Irwin

Confused: Ms Johnstone said she was 'puzzled' as to why Bindi would make such 'horrible' claims about Bob. Pictured from left: Robert, Terri and Bindi Irwin

Confused: Ms Johnstone said she was ‘puzzled’ as to why Bindi would make such ‘horrible’ claims about Bob. Pictured from left: Robert, Terri and Bindi Irwin 

‘Poppy [Bob] is the most caring, loving, beautiful soul and I am so incredibly lucky to have him as my grandfather,’ she continued.

Ms Johnstone went on to say she was ‘puzzled’ as to why Bindi would make such ‘horrible’ claims about Bob. 

Bindi’s cousin Rebecca Lobie, who is the Instagram-famous daughter of Steve’s sister Joy, has also been estranged from Terri and her children for years. 

Estranged: Bindi's cousin Rebecca Lobie, who is the Instagram-famous daughter of Steve's sister Joy, has also been estranged from Terri and her children for years

Estranged: Bindi's cousin Rebecca Lobie, who is the Instagram-famous daughter of Steve's sister Joy, has also been estranged from Terri and her children for years

Estranged: Bindi’s cousin Rebecca Lobie, who is the Instagram-famous daughter of Steve’s sister Joy, has also been estranged from Terri and her children for years 

While Rebecca is best known for being a social media personality, she once held an administrative role at Australia Zoo, working alongside the Irwins. 

However, she left the business shortly after her father Frank was fired back in 2015.  

Rebecca weighed in on Bindi’s Facebook comment over the weekend, sharing a post on Instagram Stories that didn’t clearly state which side of the feud she was on.

However, it can be assumed she doesn’t align with Bindi given the circumstances of her family’s exit from the family business.

Legacy: While Rebecca (left) is best known for being a social media personality, she once held an administrative role at Australia Zoo, working alongside the Irwins

Legacy: While Rebecca (left) is best known for being a social media personality, she once held an administrative role at Australia Zoo, working alongside the Irwins

Legacy: While Rebecca (left) is best known for being a social media personality, she once held an administrative role at Australia Zoo, working alongside the Irwins

Speaking out: Rebecca weighed in on Bindi's Facebook comment over the weekend, sharing a post on Instagram Stories that didn't clearly state which side of the feud she was on. However, it can be assumed she doesn't align with Bindi given the circumstances of her family's exit from the family business

Speaking out: Rebecca weighed in on Bindi's Facebook comment over the weekend, sharing a post on Instagram Stories that didn't clearly state which side of the feud she was on. However, it can be assumed she doesn't align with Bindi given the circumstances of her family's exit from the family business

Speaking out: Rebecca weighed in on Bindi’s Facebook comment over the weekend, sharing a post on Instagram Stories that didn’t clearly state which side of the feud she was on. However, it can be assumed she doesn’t align with Bindi given the circumstances of her family’s exit from the family business

‘After reading something on Facebook today about family, I’d like to remind everyone that unless you personally know someone or the circumstances of a situation, you should keep your judgements to yourself!’ she wrote.

‘There is a lot that happens out of the public eye that you don’t know about! Please think about this the next time you go talk s**t about someone,’ she added. 

In October last year, reports emerged claiming Rebecca wanted to ‘mend ways’ with Bindi after years of estrangement.

Reconciliation? In October last year, reports emerged claiming Rebecca wanted to 'mend ways' with Bindi after years of estrangement

Reconciliation? In October last year, reports emerged claiming Rebecca wanted to 'mend ways' with Bindi after years of estrangement

Reconciliation? In October last year, reports emerged claiming Rebecca wanted to ‘mend ways’ with Bindi after years of estrangement

According to Woman’s Day, a ‘close family friend’ claimed Rebecca hoped Bindi’s pregnancy would be the catalyst for the pair to reunite.

However, she has supposedly ruled out a reconciliation with Steve’s widow, Terri.  

‘Bec is resigned to not having Aunt Terri in their lives, but is desperate to at least mend ways with Bindi and [her brother] Robert before their grandfather is no longer around,’ said the source.

Family values: Rebecca, who shares two sons with her husband Mick Lobie (left), apparently 'wants her boys to know their cousins and is hoping Bindi's baby will change everything'

Family values: Rebecca, who shares two sons with her husband Mick Lobie (left), apparently 'wants her boys to know their cousins and is hoping Bindi's baby will change everything'

Family values: Rebecca, who shares two sons with her husband Mick Lobie (left), apparently ‘wants her boys to know their cousins and is hoping Bindi’s baby will change everything’  

‘Bec is all about family first, so when her mum and dad fell out with Terri so publicly, it was losing her little cousins that was the most heartbreaking.’

Rebecca, who shares two sons with her husband Mick Lobie, apparently ‘wants her boys to know their cousins and is hoping Bindi’s baby will change everything’.

Terri’s feud with her sister Patricia Raines

Terri Irwin’s feud with her estranged older sister, Patricia Raines, was laid bare in resurfaced court documents dating back to 2015.

Judicial records discovered by New Idea showed that Terri had sued Patricia in the Lane County Circuit Court in Oregon for alleged ‘conversion and negligence’. 

The other Irwin family feud: Terri's feud with her estranged older sister, Patricia Raines, was laid bare in court documents dating back to 2015

The other Irwin family feud: Terri's feud with her estranged older sister, Patricia Raines, was laid bare in court documents dating back to 2015

The other Irwin family feud: Terri’s feud with her estranged older sister, Patricia Raines, was laid bare in court documents dating back to 2015

‘Conversion’ refers to when an individual wrongfully uses someone else’s property for their own purposes. 

The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means the court couldn’t make a finding of guilt or innocence. It also means Terri is now blocked from ever suing her sister for the same claim again.

The court battle took place a year after Terri and Patricia’s mother, Judy Raines, died.

Dispute: The court battle took place a year after Terri and Patricia's mother, Judy Raines, died

Dispute: The court battle took place a year after Terri and Patricia's mother, Judy Raines, died

Dispute: The court battle took place a year after Terri and Patricia’s mother, Judy Raines, died 

Speaking to New Idea in 2016, Patricia revealed she hadn’t spoken to her sister since their mother’s death in 2014 due to a falling out which had erupted a few days before Judy’s passing.  

Patricia refused to go into detail about the events that led to the dispute, saying: ‘Truthfully I’m afraid – it’s very sad and I’m not at liberty to speak freely – it would be life changing.’

‘It’s so petty and it was so small… How people can hang onto grudges, I’m totally amazed. My heart aches so bad,’ she added.  

Outcome: The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means the court couldn't make a finding of guilt or innocence. It also means Terri is now blocked from ever suing her sister for the same claim again. Pictured: the online records from the Lane County Court in Oregon

Outcome: The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means the court couldn't make a finding of guilt or innocence. It also means Terri is now blocked from ever suing her sister for the same claim again. Pictured: the online records from the Lane County Court in Oregon

Outcome: The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means the court couldn’t make a finding of guilt or innocence. It also means Terri is now blocked from ever suing her sister for the same claim again. Pictured: the online records from the Lane County Court in Oregon 

 

Link hienalouca.com

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