November 10, 2016
'Dancing With The Stars' Champ Bindi Irwin Marks Another Milestone

It's only been a few months since Bindi Irwin brought her particular magic to Dancing With the Stars: an irresistible combination of talent, hard work, and positive attitude. Irwin walked away with the mirror ball trophy, and last Monday she returned to the ballroom for a few minutes on-air with host Tom Bergeron. The affable Bergeron joked that he was "teaching Bindi hosting," and asked the pint-sized former contestant to throw the show to commercial, according to Daily Mail Australia.

On Friday, Irwin told Entertainment Tonight how she's been spending her time since DWTS ended -- and she's ticked off at least one item on the checklist of most teenagers. She got her driver's license. But as she told ET, the experience wasn't without some nervous moments, especially considering the vehicle she chose to drive.

"[I]t was a little intimidating for the driving instructor because I was in my dad's old ute -- it's this giant beast of a truck and it's a manual and it's really old, so he was a bit nervous as he got into this [utility vehicle]."
Bindi's mom Terri said that the 17-year-old is growing up fast, comparing her to a baby bird preparing to flee the nest. Daily Mail Australia reported that Terri was nearby when Bindi was on Dancing With the Stars for that brief moment last Monday, as she had been in the studio throughout her run on the show last fall.

Fans of Dancing With the Stars will remember the memory of Bindi's father played a large part on the program, especially during her moving dance with partner Derek Hough on Most Memorable Year week. Like her dad, Bindi is dedicated to the natural environment. In the ET interview she took the time to promote an upcoming dinner gala in Los Angeles to honor her father.

The gala will feature celebrity guest hosts Tom Bergeron and fellow Australian Olivia Newton-John. Newton-John was even guest judge during an episode of DWTS when Bindi was competing. Other members of the DWTS family will attend the L.A. event to honor Bindi's dad and his conservation efforts, including Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Keo Motsepe, whose tenure on the program with Jodie Sweetin came to an end just last week.But Bindi is doing more than learning to drive, honoring her father's memory, and hanging out with the animals at her parents' zoo in Australia. Unlike most teenagers working hard to make their way through high school, she's already putting in some effort to advance her education. She told ET she is taking college courses and has already received a certificate in business and will soon receive one in tourism.Her busy schedule still leaves her time for a relationship with boyfriend Chandler Powell, who took her to his prom in Florida just over a year ago. Bindi marked the occasion with a "throwback" picture on her Instagram page last month.
Despite their young ages, and packed lives, Powell and Irwin have been in a committed relationship for nearly three years -- quite the feat. In her conversation with ET, Irwin credited their shared values as one thing that keeps them together.
"I think what's really wonderful about Chandler is that no matter what is happening, he's always there for me and he always makes me smile and laugh and it's brilliant to have someone so kind who really understands your world.

"He loves wildlife, he loves conservation and he's just really passionate about making a difference and he's always such a kind person, which is great."

The current season of Dancing With the Stars wraps up the week of May 23, 2016, on ABC.

[Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images]