Accessibility links

Breaking News

Elvis Fans Flock to Australian Outback for Annual Festival

An army of white-suited Elvis impersonators and thousands of fans are heading to the small Outback town of Parkes in eastern Australia. Many will be taking a special train service - the Elvis Express - to the annual Elvis festival in New South Wales.

Elvis Presley would have been 75 on Friday. Years after his death, the singer's popularity only seems to grow stronger.

Friday, fans boarded a special train in Sydney heading to the Elvis festival in the New South Wales farming town of Parkes. They say the man who revolutionized pop music should never be forgotten.

Lindy, a retired woman, is one such fan.

"One of things that make his memory enduring is because he died at such a young age and I think when the singers like Buddy Holly and Elvis and, you know, you can name quite a few die at a young age, their music seems to live on and on and on," she said. "And really there is no music like it today. You listen to the music today and I would be very surprised if some of that music is around in, you know, 60 years time like Elvis' music is."

Big hair and even bigger flared trousers are standard at the festival for followers of Elvis Presley, who died in 1977 at the age of 42.

The festival also attracts legions of women who impersonate Presley's wife, Priscilla. Devotees Justine and Daniel dressed in the spirit of the festival.

"Everyone here gets dressed up. You just have a ball, it is just like Elvis mania," Justine said." Everyone is dressed as Elvis and, yeah, got some show girls here."

"It is an Elvis suit that my mom made. It took her three months. My dad's got one too," added Daniel.

The Parkes festival began in a small restaurant more than 15 years ago to celebrate the singer's birthday. It has grown into a five-day event that includes dozens of concerts and look-a-like competitions as well as an Elvis-themed gospel church service and a street parade.

Ten thousand people are expected to attend the events in a normally quiet corner of Australia, a country Elvis Presley never visited.

In Parkes, the impersonators are treated like stars shining brightly as their sequins and fake gems.

The event generates several million dollars for the community, which has struggled in recent years under the long drought.