Bindi Irwin On Her Long-Distance Romance, Estrangement From Grandfather Bob Irwin

Bindi Irwin has warmed many hearts over the years that have passed since the tragic death of her father, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, in 2006. Fresh off her victory as winner of Season 21 of Dancing with the Stars, Daily Mail reports Irwin attended the AACTA Awards and looked stunning in a short, black lace prom dress and heels.

At home in Australia, Bindi Irwin is maintaining a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Chandler Powell, who is an American wakeboarding professional and college student. Perez Hilton reports that in a recent interview, Irwin said that as much as she likes the United States, Australia will always be home.

“I think the States are wonderful because they are like a second home, I mean my mum’s originally from Oregon, but home for me is Australia Zoo. I mean we live right in the middle of Australia Zoo, so when you grow up surrounded by animals your whole life, you can’t leave that. No matter where I go, I’ll always return home.”

She is only seventeen, so fans are impressed that the couple is — so far — making their long-distance relationship work.

In the meantime, Bindi Irwin is still glowing from her Dancing with the Stars victory. Check out her rumba with dancing partner Derek Hough.

Hough has been vacationing in Australia, and he couldn’t help but visit his awesome dance partner. Irwin gave Hough a tour of the local zoo and he posted a pic on Instagram of Irwin and him posing with a rhinoceros.

While life seems almost perfect for the Australian star, there is one shadow in her life that remains. Her grandfather, Bob Irwin, has been estranged from Bindi and her family ever since the death of Steve Irwin. In an interview with Daily Mail, Irwin discussed the rift in the family.

“Everyone deals with grief differently. When my dad passed away he [Bob Irwin] chose to distance himself from everything that dad loved the most. 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.”

Bob Irwin, who still operates the Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation, apparently even sent back birthday presents sent to him by the family one year.

“There was one year where we sent birthday presents to him and he opened them up and he sent them back. With things like that you realise that people need to deal with grief how they need to deal with grief and as long as it doesn’t hurt yourself or hurt those around you then that’s the way to go.”

In a previous interview, Bob Irwin admitted that he had a hard time coping with the death of his son.

“Once we lost Steve those were difficult times and a lot of it all I wanted to forget, I suppose. I basically buried myself in physical work, I didn’t want anything to do with people. I had things to get sorted out in my own head and that took a long time to get those sorted out. I didn’t want to be like a hermit because that wasn’t doing me any good.”

Clearly, Bindi Irwin still loves her grandfather and understands why he has distanced himself. She keeps herself busy these days, and her father, who she honored when on Dancing with the Stars, will clearly always be a huge part of her life.

[Photos by Angela Weiss, Brendon Thorne/Getty Images]