It’s a lovely fall day at the zoo in Queensland, Australia. And it’s a very special day for TV face and environmentalist Bindi Irwin, because today she will get married. This is March 2020, though, and this won’t be quite the day that Irwin and her beau Chandler Powell had planned.
Bindi has been dating Florida native Chandler for more than six years now, since the American met her on a trip to Australia. So taken with her was he that he signed up to her environmental cause too. Chandler joined her as a “Wildlife Warrior,” helping keep alive the legacy of her father, “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.
It seems that Chandler has taken to it like a croc to water. Bindi told TV show Entertainment Tonight in 2016, “He just understands us, he loves wildlife, loves wild places and is just ready to try.” Of course, the Irwin family is famous for its love of wildlife, so it’s not entirely surprising that they’d value this about Chandler.
Bindi’s dad Steve and mom Terri were both conservationists, while granddad Bob was also a naturalist and a great lover of snakes. With her dad a renowned TV personality, it was quite natural that Bindi should herself when still a toddler start to be seen on the gogglebox, where she’s been a regular ever since.
Bindi came into the world in the town of Buderim in Queensland. She was named after a beloved crocodile that had its abode in Queensland’s Australia Zoo, an institution that Steve’s parents had founded. “Bindi” derives from the language of the Nyungar indigenous people, where it means “young girl,” or so said her dad.
That dad, Steve Irwin, had become known around the world with The Crocodile Hunter, a documentary TV series in which he appeared alongside Bindi’s mom Terri. It ran for more than ten years, gaining international audiences. The pair also ran Australia Zoo, which Steve’s mom and dad had founded; it sits near to Beerwah, a town about 50 miles to the north of Brisbane, Australia.
Their daughter’s TV career really took off with Bindi the Jungle Girl, a show aimed at kids that featured wildlife. Her dad often played a part in the shows early on in the 26-episode run. When asked about his participation, he said, “I just want to be co-star to my daughter.”
That was not atypical for Steve, who once commented that Bindi was “the reason I was put on the Earth.” His wife Terri concurred with that sentiment. She said, “The only thing that could ever keep him away from the animals he loves are the people he loves even more.”
But Steve was cruelly taken away from his family by an horrific accident in September 2006. He was getting ready to film on a reef when a stingray’s barb penetrated his body, killing him. His daughter was only eight when it happened, but she resolved to carry on with his work in both TV and conservation.
A couple of weeks after her father’s passing, Bindi gave a eulogy for him in front of a live audience in the thousands and one on TV of hundreds of millions. Readers of TV Week magazine would later hail it as the TV moment of the year. Bindi went on to pay further tribute in a TV special the next year.
Bindi became caught up in a whirl of publicity, posing on the cover of a magazine in Australia, despite her youth. She was seen on Ellen’s TV show as well as David Letterman’s and Larry King’s. In these appearances, she promoted her fitness video as well as sharing details of her life and work.
In 2012 the young naturalist took charge of a game show themed around wildlife named Bindi’s Bootcamp. Entrants to the competition took on challenges at Australia Zoo. Further appearances on TV included popping up on Big Brother in a surprise for a contestant who had namechecked her and starring in Nim’s Island. She even turned up in a Canadian TV show.
In October 2018 the whole Irwin family found themselves the subject of a reality show on the Animal Planet network. Crikey! It’s the Irwins features the family as it goes about its work at Australia Zoo. It proved successful enough to be renewed for a new season that began a year later.
One TV appearance unveiled another of Bindi’s talents. It turns out that she’s quite the dancer. She proved it when she competed in U.S. reality show Dancing With The Stars in 2015. To do so required a dispensation from the courts because she was still a child. It was worth the court action: Bindi and partner Derek Hough took out the final.
Bindi’s beau, Chandler, had been a professional wakeboarder when he came across the environmentalist. He’d become a pro in 2010, when only 14, thanks to getting sponsorship. He’d become committed to the sport because, he explained, he lived right next to a wake park, so attending had been easy, and he’d quickly improved.
As his mom told newspaper the Tampa Bay Times, Chandler had developed a passion at a young age that would later incline him to wakeboarding. She said, “One of his relatives gave him a skateboard when he turned three, and we all thought it was a little crazy.” He loved it, though, and by the time he was four, he had a half-pipe outside the back of his house and was on his way to mastery.
Once Chandler had made the move to Australia, he gave up wakeboarding. But he didn’t totally bring an end to the travel that the career had given him. His social media page shows that he still gets around the world, whether he’s diving the Great Barrier Reef or sightseeing in Italy and Singapore.
Ever one to take in those sights, the wakeboarder had gone to see the animals at Australia Zoo in 2013. While there, something happened that Chandler would later share with People magazine. He said, “It just so happened that Bindi was giving tours that day.” And what did he make of her? He shared, “I’m like, ‘Wow she is amazing.’”
Bindi also remembered the occasion fondly. While on Dancing With The Stars, she recounted, “It was incredible. I was like, ‘This guy from Florida’s okay!’” Even so, Chandler was still a resident of Florida, so he had to make the long journey away from Bindi. But the flame had been lit.
Certainly, Chandler felt the fire of attraction, but he took a peculiar route to courting her. He didn’t ask for a phone number or a date, perhaps not wanting to seem too pushy. Instead, he got his brother to contact Bindi to see what she thought about an approach. She let him know that she was all for it.
Even with that, Chandler took an indirect route. He penned a missive to Bindi’s mother, to ask if she would be okay with him approaching her. And Terri was very touched by it, as the naturalist shared with Australian TV network 9Honey. She said, “Finally, after all that, mom came to me and said, ‘Who is this guy? Is he real, and why aren’t you two together?’”
Well, they did get together, and social media attests to that, as they are often seen on Instagram, clearly crazy about each other. And it’s not just the pictures: in the written word, it’s clear that they’re smitten kittens. Bindi told Us Weekly magazine, “We balance each other out very well. Chandler’s really kind.”
Bindi continued by explaining that Chandler was a very strong support for her. She told website The List in July 2019, “He is so consistently supportive and is always there for me and he reminds me to take care of me and not to do too much all at once, which is really nice. He keeps me grounded instead of flying away with all my dreams and goals.”
For his part, Chandler was clear about how struck he had been by Bindi. He told 9Honey, “You know instantly when you meet your person in life. I fell in love instantly, and we’ve never looked back. I knew [she] was someone I wanted to be around the rest of my life and just immediately fell in love with [her].”
And Chandler is not alone in his feelings, which are reflected back at him by Bindi. She also became keen on him very quickly. She explained, “We just fell in love, and that was it.” Bindi was not the only person in her family to fall in love with the dashing Floridian, however.
Indeed, Bindi explained to Entertainment Tonight in 2016 that Chandler had made quite a splash. She said, “I’m so glad that my family loves him too. They may even love him more than I do. I think, I have my family, and then Chandler has become a part of the family, so I’m happy with where I’m at.”
If Bindi was happy then, she was even happier a couple years later. That’s because Chandler had a special 21st present for her. She explained what had happened on Twitter. She wrote, “On my birthday I said ‘yes’ & ‘forever’ to the love of my life.” And she added more that showed how ecstatic the proposal had made her.
Bindi wrote, “Chandler, close to six years ago I fell in love with you & every day since has been a whirlwind of adventure & true happiness. Here’s to a lifetime of friendship, purpose & unconditional love.” She told People, “I’ve met my soulmate and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with Chandler.”
Chandler explained to People how it had happened. He said, “After Bindi’s birthday celebration at Australia Zoo, we had a photoshoot organized to celebrate her turning 21. Just before we started the shoot, I took her to a special part of Australia Zoo to ask the girl of my dreams to become my wife. These past five years together have been the best of my life and we look forward to a lifetime of magical moments to come.”
Having become engaged, the two began to plan their wedding. However, as Bindi explained to People, events overtook them. She said, “We had been planning for almost a year, but as soon as this all started happening, we had to look at different options to make sure everyone was safe.”
So the couple tied the knot in a small ceremony. The only people who attended, bar the celebrant and the betrothed pair, were Bindi’s mother, brother Robert and friend of the family Wes Mannion. Bindi said she wasn’t sorry, explaining, “It was a tough decision but absolutely the right one. Even if it wasn’t by-the-book perfect, it was our perfect.”
The couple had thought about putting off the marriage, but they just couldn’t face not being married. Bindi told People, “We thought about postponing, because you want to share this day with everyone.” However, they decided that having a small, intimate ceremony would be better than having to wait who knows how long?
The environmental hero continued, “When it boiled down to it, we both just said, ‘Look, we desperately want to get married, and no matter what the future holds, at least we’ll be husband and wife. We can take on the world together.’” But at least some things were still possible, including a delectable wedding dress.
Chandler expressed his astonishment at the sight of his betrothed when she turned up in the gown, white with long sleeves. He said, “The first time I saw Bindi in that dress was the most beautiful sight in the world. I immediately teared up. Nothing has ever felt more right than that moment in time.”
When asked what her father would have made of the marriage, Bindi had absolutely no doubt that he would have approved. She said, “These last few days have been amazing reflecting on our whirlwind of a day and also looking forward to the future. My dad would be so happy.”
Of course, being an Irwin meant that the small group of people were not quite the only attendees at her wedding. Indeed, “lots of animals” were also there to see the exchange of vows. Bindi shared the story of the day and her feelings about it on social media, writing a post on Instagram.
Bindi wrote of the March 25 occasion, “We held a small ceremony, and I married my best friend. There are no words to describe the amount of love and light in my heart right now. We’ve planned this beautiful day for nearly a year and had to change everything, as we didn’t have guests at our wedding.”
The green guru continued, “This was a very difficult decision but important to keep everyone safe. We wish all of our friends and family could have been there with us, however it’s lovely that we will be able to share photos and videos. Right now we’re encouraging the world to hold onto hope and love, which will carry us forward during this profound time in history.”
Sharing more details of the occasion, Bindi wrote, “Today we celebrated life and reveled in every beautiful moment we shared together in our Australia Zoo gardens. Mum helped me get ready, Robert walked me down the aisle, Chandler became my husband, and together we lit a candle in Dad’s memory. We shared tears and smiles and love.”
Bindi ended her post with a positive and strong message, defiant in the face of difficult times. The environmentalist wrote, “Thankfully, since we all live at Australia Zoo as a family, we could be there for each other. To everyone reading this – stay safe, social distance and remember LOVE WINS!”