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Bindi Irwin on losing her 'Crocodile Hunter' dad: 'You never actually move on'

On the verge of adulthood, Bindi Irwin opens up in a new interview about how she stays grounded, her new boyfriend and the impact of her father's death.
/ Source: TODAY

On the verge of adulthood, Bindi Irwin opens up in a new interview about how she stays grounded, a new boyfriend and the lasting impact of her father's sudden death.

Irwin, who recently celebrated her 17th birthday, was only 8 where her father, TV's famed “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, was killed by a barb from a stingray.

“You never actually move on from it,” she told Australia’s “Sunday Style.”

Irwin recalled people sharing their condolences at the time, but said she could never fully accept it when people told her “time heals all wounds.”

“There really isn’t a greater lie. It’s just not true. It’s like losing a part of your heart,” she said. “And when you’ve lost that, you never get it back. Part of you will always be missing. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Irwin recalled how difficult it was "to get out of bed in the morning" during her initial mourning. But the tight bond she shares with her widowed mother, Terri Irwin, and her younger brother, Bob, has helped her heal.

“As I’m getting older, I’m really learning unconditional love and loyalty are extremely important. I know I can count on my mum and brother to be there for me through good and bad times," she said in the interview. "It’s so easy to be there when it’s all sunshine, but it really takes strength and courage to be there for each other during the dark times.”

Irwin confirmed she is dating American wakeboarder Chandler Powell, 18, after the two met while working on her “Wildlife Warriors” conservation campaign, for which Powell serves as a global ambassador. Despite their long-distance romance, the two stay connected through Snapchat and Skype.

"I feel lucky to have him in my life,” she said.

Irwin also spoke about how living in rural Queensland, Australia, has helped her live a normal, quiet life despite being in the constant celebrity spotlight.

“Growing up where I have has been a great factor. I live in a town called Beerwah, right in the middle of Australia Zoo," she said. "It’s not hustle and bustle and busy, so that’s helpful. We travel all over the world, but I’ve always been able to come home and run around in the middle of the Australian outback.”