top of page

2017 Perth Oxfam Trailwalker

Team Name - Puma Bait

Members - Aron Downing aka Wombat

                   - Melissa Burgess aka Chief Puma Wrangler

                   - Tom Jelenich aka TJ Papa Bear

                   - Mark Pybus aka The Life of Py

When - 24th-26th of September 2017

Total Training Kilometres - Many

Fundraising Total - $2,483

Trail Time - 12 hours 27 minutes

Update - The 100km was not meant to be this year for the Perth event as strong winds forced the organisers to make the tough decision to cancel the 100km event. Teams were given the option to take part in the 50km walk the following day and most took them up on the offer.

I'm not going to lie, it was an extremely deflating experience to have the 100km event cancelled at the last minute as all the prep had been done, months of training had been put into the legs, the motivation was high and then it was gone. Making it a double blow was the unspoken feeling that this was the last opportunity in a while for Tom & Mel to compete in an Oxfam Trailwalker due to future life commitments. Of course the money raised will benefit thousands around the world and everyone did a fantastic job of reaching such a high number.

The 50km walk was still enjoyable but mainly due to the excellent company that was Team Puma Bait. The course was a bit below average with the first 30km mostly on wide dual use trails, pavement walking or right through the middle of suburbia so that wasn't ideal or motivating in the slightest. I have heard rumours that the event is being moved to a better location and I can only hope that the course spends more time walking through forest than on footpath because us hikers do not like the urban environment interrupting our hikes too much.

Aron and I will be back next year ready to raise some money for a good cause and punish the bodies once more.

What is the Oxfam Trailwalker?


The Oxfam Trailwalker is a test of endurance, mental toughness and friendship as you hike 100km in the Perth Hills within the 48 hour time limit. Why do this you ask? Good question and the answer is different for every person. Some do it for the challenge, others for the fundraising (more on this later) and some do it because they signed up not knowing what it was and couldn't back out. Most teams aim to complete the whole 100kms without sleep while others make a weekend out of it and split the hike into two sections with a comfy bed in the middle. There is no right or wrong way to do it so long as you have fun along the way and raise some money for a good cause.


You have probably heard of Oxfam before as they have a couple of Fair Trade shops around the place and do some great work to help those in need. They organise the whole event extremely well and provide great assistance to teams in their fundraising effort and with any information they require. Each four member team is required to raise a minimum of $1,400 (exclusive of entry fee) for Oxfam and with a bit of elbow grease this is easily achieved. Oxfam can provide a great range of chocolates for you to sell if you don't feel comfortable badgering people for donations or you can hold a few fundraising events to help with the total.


To check out more about the Oxfam Trailwalker and what is required click here.

Team Puma Bait


The Name - Unfortunately we aren't sponsored by the brand of petrol stations found in the Perth Hills (seriously though, email me if you're interested Puma), the name comes from a joke about being eaten by the notoriously hard to find and some say non-existent puma that stalks the Perth Hills. We have had a couple of close calls over the past winter and have selflessly made ourselves available as puma bait so it doesn't hurt others. 


Here are the members of Team Puma Bait...

Swamp Oak-8.jpg

Aron Downing aka Wombat - Aron is a new comer to the hiking game and despite being yelled at for standing in shots, wearing the wrong pack cover and dropping rocks into still puddles, he still keeps me company on my expeditions. A fit and single (line up here ladies) young whippersnapper, Aron enjoys golf, the hip hop music, basketball (watching not playing thanks to some dodgy knees), cycling, movies and hiking.


Having already taken on some big hikes including a few 35km epics and the Life of Py overnight jaunt on the Bibbulmun, Aron is looking to step up the game and has asked his body to play nice while we pound out the training miles. So far his body has declined to comment and will endeavour to get back to me within 48 hours.

Melissa Burgess aka Chief Puma Wrangler - Author of "Fantastic Puma's and Where to Be Eaten By Them", Mel is the team expert in all things puma related. An extensive knowledge of the human psyche is just her day job but her passion is what lurks hidden in the forests beyond the mundane urban landscapes of Perth. When she isn't out hunting large cats, Mel enjoys spending time with her husband Tomas, playing with their young fur-child Gus and serenading them both with her guitar.


Mel is a workhorse on the trail, always finding the positive in every situation and is a great source of interesting conversation topics, which will be very handy in the dark am hours of the Oxfam Trailwalker when morale will be at its lowest.

Tomas Jelenich aka TJ Papa Bear - What can be said about young Tomas? The true renaissance man in every sense of the word. A hard working blue collar man with an engineering masters degree and a love for cooking exquisite cuisine. Handy with a saw and hammer but equally at home with a needle and thread. Looks great with a shirt off and will even wash it along with the other laundry. Too much bro love?


Tom deserves it as it's rare to find such a unique person that cares not what others think and enjoys a free thinking way of life. Happy to come out on a 35km hike after a 12 hour night shift or just chill out and enjoy a whiskey or two. A great asset to the team and will be featured as Mr May, June and September in the upcoming Life of Py Calendar. 

Mark Pybus aka The Life of Py - This is not his first dance at the rodeo with a successful 2014 Trailwalker under his hiking belt, Mark is back for more (yes this will be written in the 3rd person). With his fellow 2014 team members disowning him for putting them through 26 hours of hiking, Mark was left without anyone to Oxfam with until he convinced some more suckers, I mean friends, that this is a great idea and not at all hard.


After surveying and reporting on a variety of Perth trails over the past two years, he will be organising a punishing regime of training hikes that hopefully won't result in being force fed to a puma. Away from hiking Mark's life is pretty empty and this is all he has to live for in the world (kidding - he has a great partner, two muppet faced dogs and enjoys old man stuff like gardening, hammocking and basketball).

How Can I Get Involved?


We believe that you should get something in return for your support so instead of making your hard earned dollary-doos rain in our direction (although feel free to), we will be organising some fun events for you to attend and cool items for you to purchase (wine, chocolate, hiking badges). Upcoming events will include movie nights, golf days, late summer croquet evening and several training hikes (run separately from the normal group hikes). 


Along with the great Oxfam Chocolate that will be available to purchase at every event, I am selling super exclusive Life of Py hiking badges for $6 each (postage included) with all proceeds going to the team. If you are interested in buying a badge then email me at and I will forward on payment details. 

If you are a local Perth business that would like to donate goods or a voucher then please contact me at with details of how you would like to assist and your business will be linked on this page.


Give The Life of Py Facebook page a like if you haven't already to keep up with the latest news and events.

Mt Cooke Squad-5.jpg

How Can I Join?


If you are interested in doing the Oxfam Trailwalker yourself then either post a comment below to let others know you are keen or post on the Perth Singles forum on the Trailwalker website. If you aren't sure about if you can do it then come along to a group hike or training hike (starting Autumn 2017) to meet some fellow hikers and gauge your stamina. 


Check out our Team Page over on the Oxfam website and we look forward to making the world a better place with your help.

bottom of page