“I think that for me, I miss the adventure that dad was,” Bindi, who turned 19 on Monday, told PEOPLE in May. “He was the greatest dad on the planet, but he was always doing something. There was never a dull day.”
Reflecting on the childhood memories that she had with her father, who passed away at the age of 44 on Sept. 4, 2006 following the attack of a stingray off the coast of Australia while filming a documentary, there’s one distinct moment that comes to Bindi’s mind that captures the essence of who Steve was.
“I can remember being in the middle of taking a school math test and dad would burst through the doors and say, ‘That’s it! We’re leaving! We have to go climb the highest mountain. It’s about a 30-minute drive away, so you have 20 minutes to finish up your math test and we’re leaving,’ ” the season 21 Dancing with the Stars winner shared.
“He’d put Robert on his shoulders, because Robert was still tiny, and say, ‘Hold onto my hair really tight so you don’t fall.’ So Robert would hold onto dad’s hair and then we’d all just scale this giant mountain!” Bindi said about younger brother Robert, now 13.
Just like the man that audiences watched on television, Steve lived out the same adventurous spirit when the cameras weren’t rolling and included his two children in the activities, which are some of Bindi’s favorite pastimes.
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“You never knew what to expect and that’s what was so great about dad is every day was an adventure and he was just like you saw in all of those documentaries. That was dad! You never knew what to expect and every day was fun and different,” she explained. “He would just pick us up in the mornings on the motorbike from our house — we live right in the middle of the zoo — so he’d pick us up on the motorbike and we’d go and get ice cream for breakfast. Robert would have blue ice cream all over his face,” she said with a laugh. “It was so much fun! I miss that the most about dad.”
“I miss dad every single day, but as a family, we’re really lucky to have each other and to have all of those beautiful memories,” she added. “It’s so important.”
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Although her father is no longer alive, both Bindi and Robert, along with their mother Terri — she wed Steve in 1992 — are carrying on their father’s legacy through the family’s conservation organization, Wildlife Warriors Worldwide.
“Dad was amazing because he left this legacy that people will never forget. He didn’t just say to love the cute and cuddly animals – he tried to get people to understand and respect the animals like crocodiles and snakes and really break down those barriers,” she explained. “For us, we really want to carry on in dad’s footsteps and make sure that everything he worked so hard for continues on in the future.”