The epic story of the man who posted himself from London to Australia

It’s the kind of story, which was made for a book or the big screen, and even his wife didn’t believe it.

The epic story of the man who posted himself to Australia

A miniature replica of the box used to promote a book about the escapade of Reg Spiers who travelled from London to Australia inside it and he then hitchhiked to Adelaide. Photo: Marcus McSorley

When Australian athlete Reg Spiers found himself stranded in London in the mid-sixties with no money to buy a plane ticket home he came up with an inventive idea.

The 22-year-old was desperate to get back to Adelaide in time for his daughter's birthday.

Unable to come up with the cash for the ticket Mr Spiers decided to get his friend John McSorley on board to build a crate and post it back to Australia, with him hiding inside it.

Reg Spiers in Africa. Photo: Marcus McSorley

At a pub in London the pair planned the epic 63-hour adventure from London to Perth.

On the journey Mr Spiers was left upside down on a tarmac in the scorching sun in Bombay and ended up getting naked because he was so hot.

The adventurer lived to tell the tale and it has been turned into a book by Mr McSorley’s wife and son, Julie and Marcus McSorley called Out of the Box: The Highs and Lows of a Champion Smuggler.

Mr Spiers told the BBC: "I just got in the thing and went. What was there to be frightened of? I'm not frightened of the dark so I just sat there.


"It's like when I travel now if I go overseas. There's the seat. Sit in it, and go."

Spiers, a promising javelin thrower, had gone to the UK to try to recover from an injury that had interrupted his athletics career.

The BBC reports he had been on course to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 but when it was clear he wouldn’t make the game he took at an airport to earn some extra money.

He got the idea about travelling in a box back to Australia while working in the cargo section where he had seen animals come through.

He said: “I thought, 'If they can do it I can do it.'”

Mr McSorley told the BBC: "He told me it had to be 5ft x 3ft x 2.5ft, (1.5m x 0.9m x 0.75m).

This replica of the box shows how straps were fixed inside the box to secure Mr Spiers when the box was being loaded and unloaded. Photo: Marcus McSorley

"I knew Reg and I thought, 'He's going to do it regardless, so if he's going to do it I'd better make him a box that at least is going to get him there.”

They made the crate to the size where his friend could sit up straight-legged, or lie on his back with his knees bent.

Mr Spiers packed some supplies for his big trip including- two bottles- one for water and one for urine, tinned food, a torch, a blanket and a pillow.

The crafty pair labeled the box as being filled with paint addressed to a fictitious ‘Mr Graham’, specifying cash-on-delivery.

After the mammoth journey Mr Spiers says he knew he had arrived home when he heard the Australian baggage handlers swearing about the size of the box.

He added: “The accents - how could you miss? I'm on the soil. Amazing. Wonderful. I made it.

"I was grinning from ear to ear, but I wasn't going to let them know I'm there now - I've almost pulled the whole thing off.”

Spiers’ luck continued and he was able to cut a hole in the wood, put on his suit and make his way out of the airport, he says there was no security.

He still had to get from Perth to Adelaide and he managed to hitchhike all the way across Australia and even got back in time for his daughter’s birthday.

But when he got home his wife didn’t believe the farfetched tale.

He added: "She didn't believe me, but then she thought about it and thought 'He must have done it, how else did he get here?'

“So eventually she rode with it."

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