Even as a baby, Bindi Irwin seemed to be leaning forward, giving Australia the thumbs up.
Foreigners have a very specific idea about how Australian kids grow up: with lizards in our beds and kangaroos to ride to school. Bindi Irwin, and later her brother Baby Bob, seemed to live that mythical life at their family’s zoo on the Sunshine Coast.
Named after her father’s favourite crocodile and the family dog, Bindi was born into a family that lived a deeply unique, very public life.
While Australia Zoo had been run by the Irwins for a couple of generations, it wasn’t until Steve Irwin started making wildlife documentaries that the family’s national profile took off. Bindi was just two when she made her debut on one of her dad’s shows, but she soon became a very visual part of the Irwin brand. A confident little girl with her mum’s blunt fringe and her dad’s swagger, she soon had her own TV shows and specials.
Bindi was just eight years old, when Steve Irwin was killed on one of his wildlife adventures, and Bindi took over as the public face of the Irwin brand.
Bindi the Little Girl was very much a part of Australian popular culture in the early 2000s. And like Nikki Webster and Tina Arena before her, our country was not really prepared for our iconic little girls to become teenagers, with all of the awkwardness that comes with that. When these famous little girls grow up, they either fall off our radar or become the butt of cruel jokes. Teenaged Bindi experienced both.
Just a few months ago, Bindi joined the American version of Dancing with the Stars — a TV concept originally from Australia. Week after week, it was her personality as much as her dancing that scored big with the judges and fans.
With the Americans going wild for her, Australians caught up. Suddenly Bindi was back. Our Bindi. We’re watching all of her dances and her moving interviews about her father.
Today, Australians have celebrated with her and her American fans. She’s done a sensational job and deserves every minute.
The moment Bindi took home the prize: