Bindi Irwin says her grandfather "hasn't had anything to do" with the family for a long time.

Little Bindi Irwin is now firmly back in Australia’s bosom. She’s our golden girl. Australia’s sweetheart. Especially after she made such a good showing over in the US.

Her stint on Dancing with the Stars was one long tribute to her dad, the inimitable Steve Irwin, who died when she was eight.

Bindi may have grown up and blossomed in the wake of her father’s death, but she says that Irwin’s own father, Bob Irwin, has been unable to deal with the loss.

Now she’s 17, and Bindi Irwin has nothing to do with Steve Irwin’s beloved dad.

“Everyone deals with grief differently,” she told Mail Online at the AACTAs last night.

“When my dad passed away he chose to distance himself from everything that dad loved the most.”

It sounds as though it’s more of a serious rift than a grief-induced distancing, though.

Terri, Bob, and Bindi Irwin with Steve Irwin’s father Bob Irwin (right).

“There was one year where we sent birthday presents to him and he opened them up and he sent them back,” she said.

Bob Irwin, 76, runs the Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation.

He spoke about his grief over his son’s loss on an episode of Australian Story earlier this year.

“Once we lost Steve those were difficult times and a lot of it all I wanted to forget, I suppose,” Irwin said.

“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.”

Steve and Bindi Irwin. Image via Instagram.

On the same show, former Australia Zoo staffer Amanda French described Irwin’s withdrawal from the family business.

“Bob was always there in the background and I’d often see him there watching Bindi’s shows and all of sudden he wasn’t there anymore.”

Watch Bindi Irwin on Dancing with the Stars… Post continues after video.

Video by ABC

The apparent rift began after Irwin departed Australia Zoo in 2008 following Steve Irwin’s death. Staff said he didn’t like the commercial direction his son’s widow Terri Irwin was taking the zoo.

In 2010 he suffered a heart attack and told the Daily Telegraph that his grandchildren hadn’t visited him.

The last Irwin family photo before Steve Irwin’s untimely death.

“I haven’t heard from them [Bindi and Robert] and it is sad but that is a part of life, I guess,” Irwin said then.

Last year, he didn’t attend Bindi’s 16th birthday bash at Australia Zoo.

“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,” Bindi told Mail Online diplomatically last night.