The Parkes Elvis Festival is held in the 2nd week of January to coincide with Elvis’ January 8th birthday. It was started 25 years ago by some Elvis fans who ran the Graceland Restaurant when at that time of year, tourists were non existent.
Elvis had an early hit with Mystery Train, whose lyrics inspired indie writer/director Jim Jarmusch to make a cult film with the same name, but the Elvis Express is anything but enigmatic.
The exuberance, joie de vivre and sense of anticipation at Central Station on January 12th was infectious. Thousands of fans lined up, first to be entertained by some excellent Elvis impersonators and then to queue for the rebranded XPT.
The variety of costumes of the train travellers to Parkes, would have added a riot of colour to the 150 events with this year’s theme – Viva Las Vegas.
The town’s population triples, as 25,000 visitors are hosted by a majority of Parkes’ 12,000 residents.
All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).