Capalaba couple Murray and Edith Thomas, who started out as pen pals, celebrate 50 years of marriage

CAPALABA man Murray Thomas travelled thousands of kilometres to meet wife Edith for a first date in 1969.

ETERNAL MATRIMONY: Murray and Edith Thomas at the tree that they say symbolises their love for each other. Photo: Brian Williams

ETERNAL MATRIMONY: Murray and Edith Thomas at the tree that they say symbolises their love for each other. Photo: Brian Williams

Now the couple are on the cusp of celebrating 50 years together as a married couple.

Last week Mr Thomas told the Redland City Bulletin that he and his wife had stumbled upon a unusual tree near their home.

Two of its limbs had fused together in a process known as grafting and the couple believed it was symbolic of their married life together.

They spent more than a year sending letters to each other in 1969 while Mr Thomas studied at Bible college in South Australia and Mrs Thomas, then Edith Freiberg, worked as a mission nurse in Papua New Guinea.

After graduating and getting a loan from the bank, Mr Thomas travelled by various aircraft - including a DC3 and Cessna - and spent 12 hours in a four-wheel drive to meet up with his future wife for the first time.

After spending just three weeks together in PNG they got engaged and married six months later on June 6 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Toowoomba.

Both were over 30 at the time.

Mr Thomas' brother had a hand in getting the love birds together.

"He was up there (in PNG) as a lay missionary for the Lutheran Church and Edith was working in the same area," Mr Thomas said.

"It was through him and his wife that she got to know who I was, and so she wrote a letter."

The couple spent their first few years as a married couple in Sydney where their two boys, Paul and Timothy, were born.

They went on to live and work in South Australia and PNG before settling in Capalaba four years ago.

Mr Thomas said the secret to their long lasting relationship was their commitment to each other.

"I think we were willing to go through the difficult times," he said.

"You come into a relationship as different people. Common cultural backgrounds help but it is about making a commitment that this is for life."

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