Karen & TimIt's near the end of our April school holidays - two weeks plus 2 days off between Term 1 and Term 2. I'm trying to get caught up with news and photos on the website.

Our excitement this holiday was from the week-long visit by my cousin Karen from Michigan. Karen was able to stop in Melbourne and Cairns (Great Barrier Reef) before arriving in Perth. Whilst here the boys and I were free to show her around the Perth region (Lanette had to work a couple of the days).

The first days (Easter weekend) were filled largely by Karl's baseball tournament in a northern suburb of Perth. But after that, we got into tour guide mode. On Monday we headed for the hills about 45 minutes east of us to see the friendly wild kangaroos at Serpentine Falls. We then headed north to Araluen Botanical Park which we'd never been to but have now vowed we need to get there in the spring. Even in autumn the flowers were incredible and the landscape simply beautiful. Then we rounded out the day in the hills with a drive to Mundaring Weir. "Weirs" are what they call "dams" here and this one was famous as it created a reservoir when it was built a century ago that allowed for the pumping of water 660 km inland to the goldfields and kicked off a gold digging boom.

Karen with koalaOn Lanette's Wednesday day off, we went to the nearby Marapana Wildlife Park because Karen wanted to hold a koala. Her wish came true and it was a real treat for all of us to watch. Besides the koalas, we enjoyed up close experiences with kangaroos, wombats, emus, ostriches, crocodiles, peacocks, all sorts of birds, dingoes, bandicoots, alpacas, camels, and I can't remember the rest. We actually fed the kangaroos, wombats, emus, ostriches, alpacas and birds. Everyone of us thought the wildlife park was terrific. We finished the day with a seafood dinner on the boardwalk in Mandurah.

Finally on Friday, we snuck in a quick trip down to the Margaret River region in the southwest corner of WA. It's 3-4 hours each way so it's a stretch to see and do everything in one day... but we did! We just couldn't deny Karen a chance to experience this region that travel guide publisher Lonely Planet recently listed in its top 10 regions of the world.

Karl & Dane sheep shearingWe hit most of our favourite spots including the sheep shearing demonstration where this time Karl and Dane were selected to help the shearer. We got our handfuls of free samples from the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. We were mesmerised again by the waves at Canal Rocks whilst the boys frolicked up and down the rock piles. We saw surfers and kit surfers at a couple of the famous surf beaches. And we showed Karen one of our favourite views of the karri trees in the Boranup Forest.

It was such a great week with Karen, re-connecting with a cousin and doing the tourist bits we don't always make time for.

After Karen's visit, we don't know of anyone else's plans to come on down and take advantage of our free room and board. Start making your plans if you haven't as we only have about 6 more school holidays left down here.