Tanya Cocks from Rockhampton and Tammy Newcombe from Virgina started writing to each other at the ages of nine and 10 and have been pen pals for 40 years.
Tanya Cocks from Rockhampton and Tammy Newcombe from Virgina started writing to each other at the ages of nine and 10 and have been pen pals for 40 years. Zhanae Conway-Dodd

40 year friendship and they've only met twice

THEY were only nine and 10 years old when they formed a friendship from two different sides of the world, with only pen and paper to keep them in contact.

But it would be 35 years into their pen pal friendship before they could actually meet face-to-face.

Local girl Tanya Cocks had the chance to be reunited with her best friend Tammy Newcombe from Lawrenceville, Virginia, for the second time since 2012 in Rockhampton earlier this week.

The two women, who have been pen pals for 40 years, have spent the week climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, checking out Australia Zoo and of course meeting all of Tanya's family and friends in Rocky.

Sitting down with The Morning Bulletin, the two best mates, both wearing matching necklaces from a recent shopping trip, spoke of how their friendship began.

"My sister is three years older than I and she had this magazine called Teen Beat magazine. We were looking through it one day and there was an advertisement in the back and it said would you like a pen pal from a far away land," Tammy explained.

"Both of us said sure, so you fill out information with your name, your age, your eye colour, your hobbies, height and different things like that then you send it into them and they match you with someone from somewhere.

"They must have put that in different magazines so I found Tammy's name in the magazine with the pen pal and so her birthday is the sixth of May and my birthday is the eighth of May and she was nine and I was eight so I have said 'oh mum can you post this letter' and that's where it all started," Tanya added.

"My sister and I both did it, of course I got Tanya, and my sister got someone from England but they really didn't pursue it like we did," said Tammy.

From there the friendship started with handwritten letters with the girls sharing their lives with each other.

Over the years they shared memories of high school, boyfriends, marriage and children.

"It started with handwritten letters, then in the late 90s early 2000s we really switched over to email then maybe mid 2000s we went to Facebook and we've done some Skyping," Tammy said.

"But then in 2012 she called me and said I'm coming over for a visit and that was after 35 years and my heart started racing and I thought 'oh my God we're going to meet'.

"Ever since we were little girls, if you go back and look at our letters we say one day we're going to meet, one day we're going to meet.

"And because we've shared all these intimate details of each others' lives, when she pulled up in my yard, I was so nervous.

"I was thinking, suppose she doesn't like me, but the car pulled up in the driveway and she got out.

"I've met some of her family and it's so surreal to meet them in person.

"I was inside and fidgety. She steps out of the car and I step out of my front door and no words were spoken, we walk directly to each other and just embrace and cry.

"It was the most beautiful moment.

"It's so familiar and warm, she's like my sister, it's like she has been in the house with me growing up

because I know everything about her.

Tanya said when the girls were 15 and 16 they would always say, "I'm coming to visit next summer".

"It was April Fools' Day, April 1, 2012, and I remember driving up her driveway thinking it's April Fools' Day and that's the first day we are going to meet."



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