Tony Frisby writes of Steve Irwin
WHEN you’re tracking down a monster-sized croc or one of the world’s deadliest snakes it’s good when the bloke beside you knows what he’s doing.
For many years Yeppoon’s Tony Frisby had Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, alongside him.
Tony, who now works as a wildlife ranger, has written a book with Sunshine Coast-based journalist Julie Gatehouse about his former “best mate” which went on sale this week.
It tells of their friendship before the khaki, crikey and controversy – a pair bonded by friendship, conversation and a few rums around the campfire.
Tony, who was best man at Steve’s wedding to Terri, is his only teenage friend to talk in depth following his death in September 2006.
He said writing the book was a difficult decision, but done so with the support of Steve’s dad, Bob Irwin, who wanted people to appreciate the “real Steve”.
It tells of their youthful pursuits, outback adventures, reptile chasing, mateship and surfing.
Speaking from the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday, Tony said in the mid-1980s he and Steve caught plenty of crocodiles as part of a management plan.
“When you’re catching the most venomous snake in the world or the largest predator in Australia you have to rely on the person you’re working with,” Tony said.
“There were plenty of times being young and a bit gung ho, where we took risks.
“Workplace health and safety was not high on the agenda.”
Tony said Steve was a one-off and he wasn’t a big fan of the wannabes who had surfaced in recent times.
“There will never be anyone else like Steve Irwin,” he said.
“If these people are doing what they do for the right reasons, and that’s promoting conservation, then that’s good.
“But if all they are doing is for celebrity status and fame they are doing it for the wrong reasons.”
He encouraged people who wanted to know more about conservation to buy the book, My Mate Steve Irwin – Life Before The Crocodile Hunter, which has also been released in the US.
Tony is expected back home in CQ this weekend after spending the week touring the country promoting the book. All proceeds from the book, published by Longueville Books, will go to the Bob Irwin Wildlife Foundation.