Their whirlwind friendship began on Facebook, grew over beer, progressed to a New Year’s Eve kiss – then went right around the world.
It started when Sam Mitchell, a 19-year-old plasterer in Australia, contacted a 22-year-old British backpacker on social media because he shared his exact name.
“You may be wondering why I have sent you a friend request. I had to because we share the same name. Middle name as well. Good day sir,” he wrote.
The reply came quickly: “Yeah, and what is stranger is that I’ve just moved from the UK to Australia.”
Four hours later, the Australian and his friends pooled their money to buy the London man a ticket from Victoria to Tasmania for the following morning, New Year’s Eve.
“The idea of flying him down got tossed about,” Australian Sam told the BBC. “The more beers we had, the better the idea became.”
Day of fun
After collecting their new friend from Launceston Airport, the group staged what they called the “Sam Mitchell Olympics”.
This involved a sack race using laundry buckets, a taste-testing game and beer pong.
Later at a bar, the Sams celebrated 2017 with a kiss.
“It was strictly platonic, but it was very nice for me knowing that he had chosen to kiss me at midnight, instead of his girlfriend who he has been with for four years,” British Sam said.
The story of their unlikely meeting and ensuing fun has made news around the world.
“The games. The drinks. The mateship. The pash,” said pop culture website Pedestrian. “Ladies and gentlemen, 2017 is still young, but we don’t reckon the internet will get any better than this over the next 12 months.”
Lifestyle website Techly mused: “The Man From Snowy River, the expedition of Burke and Wills and the tale of Ned Kelly are all iconic Australian stories, but now we’ve finally got one for the digital age.”
British Sam told the BBC: “It seems to be a story that everyone is really enjoying amongst all the bad news over the past year.”
Play it again, Sams?
The friends parted ways but have vowed to remain in touch.
“We joked about – by next New Year’s (Eve) – having a bunch of Sam Mitchells from all over the world representing their countries and having an actual ‘Sam Mitchell Olympics’,” British Sam said.
“We’ll definitely have a drink and a few laughs at some point.”
Reporting by the BBC’s Greg Dunlop