How man posted himself to Perth

Published Mar 11, 2015


London - He was penniless, stranded in London and desperate to get back to his native Australia.

So would-be Olympic athlete Reg Spiers did what any enterprising Aussie might have done in the carefree Sixties - he posted himself home in a box.

The javelin-throwing airport worker had a crate built, fitted straps to keep him secure and arranged for it to be flown to Perth.

Then he got in and spent 63 hours in the 5ft by 3ft container before climbing out in time to celebrate a date he could not otherwise have kept - his daughter’s birthday.

All he took was his passport, a torch, fruit gums, two tins of spaghetti, fruit juice, a chocolate bar and biscuits. Incredibly, he survived unharmed and undetected.

“I got in and went,” he said.

“What was there to be frightened of?”

The remarkable tale of his round-the-world odyssey has re-emerged after half a century thanks to another piece of Aussie enterprise - a book and the prospect of a film.

Whether he truly did go home in a box has long been debated.

But Mr Spiers certainly did arrive in time for his daughter’s birthday and the story of his 13 000-mile trip via Paris, Bombay and Singapore was widely reported at the time.

The fact that he went on to become a drug-smuggler and globe-trotting fugitive may also lend weight to his expertise in avoiding detection at airports.

In November 1964 the Daily Mail told how Air India had demanded £345 in freight charges - £117 more than the cost of an economy-class seat.

It eventually let him off.

As a 22-year-old athlete whose path to the Tokyo Olympics was halted only by injury, Mr Spiers went to London to recover before resuming his javelin-throwing career. He got a job in airline cargo, where he despatched cash-on-delivery freight. But he says his wallet was stolen shortly before his daughter’s birthday, scuppering his plans to see her back home.

Then he had an idea. “I’d seen animals come through and I thought, ‘If they can do it, I can do it’.”

His friend John McSorley built the box after they hatched the plan in a pub. It was big enough to let him sit up with straight legs or lie down with knees bent. At one stage he was left with his feet pointing skywards after the box was upended in the scorching Bombay sun.

He knew he was home only when he heard Australian voices as the crate was taken to a warehouse.

From there, he says, he climbed out of the box, cut a hole in the wall to escape and hitch-hiked 1 800 miles to Adelaide for the party.

The alarm was raised only after he failed to tell Mr McSorley he had arrived - and his friend alerted authorities, creating a media frenzy.

Now 73, he has co-written Out Of The Box, The Highs And Lows Of A Champion Smuggler. Naturally, it lifts the lid on the entire episode.

Daily Mail

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