Bindi Irwin and Chandler Powell are spending time together researching crocodiles at the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Cape York. Photo: Supplied Bindi Irwin and Chandler Powell Photo: Supplied
Terri Irwin (left) and Chandler Powell jump on Stanley, a 10-foot freshwater crocodile being tagged as part of research into crocodile behaviour in the Wenlock River Photo: Nathanael Cooper
Chandler Powell participating in his first “croc jump” Photo: Instagram
Bindi Irwin wasn’t looking for love, nor even expecting to find it, when she agreed to show a visiting American wake boarder around Australia Zoo.
But she did find it and the genesis of their romance is incredibly cute.
“We met and I gave him a tour and I was really excited to meet Chandler and his family but I didn’t expect to go ‘this American guy is alright’,” she told Fairfax Media in an exclusive interview on the banks of the Wenlock River in the Steve Irwin Wildlife reserve.
When Chandler got back to America he knew he wanted to see more of Bindi and went about making that happen in a very chivalrous way.
“He is very sweet and very kind, he wrote to my mum to check and see if it was OK to stay in contact with me,” Bindi said.
“We got this email and mum goes ‘I think this is for you’.”
For Chandler, he wanted to ensure he didn’t do anything inappropriate by asking Bindi out.
“I was like, I like her, I want to do this right, I don’t want to step over any lines, I guess I ask for permission,” he said.
Permission was granted and the couple began a love affair that has taken them all over the world.
With Bindi’s conservation work and television appearances, and Chandler’s wake boarding competitions, the couple have had to squeeze in opportunities to see each other wherever they have free time or wherever they happen to be in the same place at the same time; or at least nearby.
“Sometimes Chandler will stay on somewhere after a competition until I get there or fly somewhere nearby so we can be together before he leaves to go to a competition,” Bindi explained.
But this year, they have blocked out a chunk of time to be together that happens to coincide with the annual Crocodile Research Trip to the Steve Irwin Wildlife reserve.
The couple arrived slightly later than the rest of the family, taking a week out to visit the Zoo’s other conservation properties in Queensland ahead of a short break to Tasmania. They then drove Steve Irwin’s ute from the Zoo in Beerwah all the way to the reserve north of Weipa.
There was no time to rest upon their arrival, the next morning they were both required for the all-important croc catching duties where Chandler was able to fulfil a life-long dream.
“I actually used to watch the Steve Irwin documentaries when I was younger; I had my khaki outfits, stuffed crocs and plastic sharks,” he said.
Bindi interrupts; apparently the interest in croc catching goes a bit deeper.
“He downplays it, his family have photos of Chandler on the walls in full khaki jumping on a stuffed croc, wearing a snorkel in his khaki,” she said.
“We all laugh, but it is interesting that he is here now.”
On their second day on the reserve the team of croc catchers who travel up from the zoo had a win. The 18th of 19 traps set along the Wenlock River had secured a crocodile – Stanley, a nearly 10 foot freshwater crocodile they had first caught three years ago.
After the team had pulled the trap to shore and secured the crocodile, Chandler was chosen to participate in the “jump team”, the group of people who leap on the crocodile’s back to keep it secure while scientist Dr Ross Dwyer checked the tracking tag along with the crocodile’s health.
“Honestly, on the way to the traps my heart was beating so fast, I was more afraid of doing it wrong, not hurt the croc, not hurt anyone else,” he said.
“But as soon as we walked up next to the croc ready to jump it, everything slowed down, it was really calm.”
Watching on Bindi, who was recording vital information Dr Dwyer was calling out, couldn’t have been more proud that her partner in crime was fitting in so well.
“It has been crazy to see him in khaki; this is his first official uniform. It was a really big moment for me,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful thing. It’s great he is able to learn so early on.”
It is good timing for Bindi to have a settled private life.
Her mother Terri and brother Robert will leave the country shortly after the Croc Research Trip ends in September to visit their conservation projects around the world.
Bindi will stay behind at the Zoo to help run it.
At just 18 years old Bindi is wise beyond her years and is both excited and daunted by the challenge she is about to face.
But she said her mother had instilled in her both the belief that she can achieve anything and the understanding it is OK to ask for help.
“Mum says if you believe in yourself you can take on the world,” she said.
“But she has also helped me understand that I have people I love around me and to know you can count on people, you don’t have to be an independent human being. You can ask for help.”
It isn’t the only person-shaping Terri has done with Bindi.
She is one of the most eternally positive and cheerful people you could meet and that is in the face of enormous tragedy in her own life, with the death of her father in 2008, to an endless stream of online bullies doing their best to bring her down.
Bindi refuses to let it.
“The easy thing to do is to let it get you down and get frustrated and mad,” she said.
“To say ‘I’m not going to let this bother me’, that’s hard, but that’s what I choose to do.
“And I do it not just for myself, but the people around me, I hope if I can choose to be strong and not let it bring me down, maybe other people will do the same.
“There’s some terrible things that people can say and hopefully if they see me rising above it they will think ‘its not bringing her down maybe we can be strong too’.”
Bindi and Chandler will remain on the reserve until September, when they will both return to the Zoo.
While Bindi busies herself making sure everything is running smoothly there, Chandler will be continuing to hone his wakeboarding skills at a nearby wake park.
Bindi will also embark on her next major project – her first book.
It won’t be a biography but more of a series of life lessons she has learned in her short but interesting journey on this planet.
“It’s going to be a long work-in-progress,” she said.
“There’s a lot I want to put into it.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.