Raising funds for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital and a trip to Brisbane made for an exciting weekend this month for the Irwin family. It's a one-and-a-half hour drive from Australia Zoo to Brisbane where the evening event was held, so Bindi Irwin tells suitcases&strollers how the Crocodile Hunter’s family turns a potentially tedious work commute into a fun, one night holiday for the kids (and how travelling with children doesn't always have to be an elaborate extravaganza). 

Every year on November 15 we celebrate Steve Irwin Day, honouring my dad’s legacy. We also hold the Steve Irwin Day Gala Dinner, where people from all walks of life join us for a night of entertainment and fundraising for our Wildlife Hospital.

The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has treated over 50,000 patients over the last 9 years and costs about AU$2.5 million each year to run. The Wildlife Hospital relies on Australia Zoo and the kind donations from the public to continue its operation. This is why we started the tradition of holding an annual Gala Dinner to raise funds and awareness of our Wildlife Hospital.

However, a really late night in the city of Brisbane with a teenager and a 9-year-old can be challenging, especially if you have to drive home the same night as the gala dinner. So, my mum always plans for us to stay overnight in a hotel if we have any late night functions.

I understand that for many people it can be scary having to drive for hours to a dinner function and then drive for hours home late at night…with kids. But it doesn’t have to be so daunting.

I always take my earbuds and iPhone for texting and music on the drive and a good book for when we arrive at the hotel. I literally always have a book with me no matter where I am going.

[My younger 9-year-old brother] Robert has a DVD player in the car for watching his very favourite dinosaur documentaries, plus mum’s iPad provides him with hours of entertainment…especially after we downloaded an art app for him! This means that we are all happy and occupied throughout the trip. [For more tips on surviving road trips with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]

As a family, we always plan to stay overnight. For our Brisbane trip, we drove into the city early to give ourselves plenty of time to get ready. Staying in a lovely hotel room overlooking the city while we were getting dressed up for the dinner was so fun!

My little brother Robert spent his time out on the balcony taking pictures of the Brisbane River and editing them with his iPod photo edits app. But this peace lasted an entire hour before he decided that he was STARVING, and if he “didn’t eat right now he would die”. Mum offered him food; however, the one and only thing to keep him from “dying of starvation” were the potato chips in the room. As a special one-off treat Mum let him eat a bag of these salty snacks; delicacies for a nine year old. 

After he had his fill, Robert began drawing. Mum made sure to pack extra pens and pencils for our artist in the making. This is a great way to keep Robert occupied while we are getting ready because he will spend up to 3 hours (yes, 3 entire hours) working on a drawing. He is an amazing artist and this trip he drew an abstract version of the Brisbane skyline outside our window…and a dinosaur.

While Robert was busy, mum and I got to work getting dressed and ready. I had a friend come over to help and because the room was so spacious, we got to spread out our makeup and have a blast. Experimenting with hair straighteners, perfumes and make up – it was a great time!

The nicest part of staying the night in Brisbane is that after the Steve Irwin Day Gala Dinner we had a place to sleep. Our hotel was only 5 minutes away from the venue which meant that we were able to walk there and back to our room. It was so nice to stretch our legs after a fun night and then go to sleep almost instantly. Plus, as a teenager, I really appreciated the fact that I could sleep in the next day. It certainly made life easier!

The most exciting part of the entire trip? The Steve Irwin Day Gala Dinner raised nearly AU$133,000 this year, saving the lives of thousands of sick and injured animals.


For more ideas on things to do in Brisbane with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.

Bindi Irwin is a regular contributor to suitcases&strollers. To read more of her thoughts on travel, type her name into the Search bar on the suitcases&strollers website. 

By Bindi Irwin; Images: Australia Zoo