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An Elvis impersonator gestures as he boards a train to travel to the annual Parkes Elvis Festival, at Central Station in Sydney on January 11, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Elvis impersonators swaggered through Sydney’s Central Station on Thursday, boarding the “Blue Suede Express” on an unlikely annual pilgrimage paying homage to The King.

The train will shake, rattle and roll out of the city and towards the small farming town of Parkes, which hosts around 25,000 diehard fans at its Elvis Festival every year.

Those with suspicious minds might point out Elvis Presley never sung a note in Australia, let alone Parkes, which lies about 350 kilometres inland from Sydney.

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Two men dressed as Elvis on the train to Parkes.

But impersonator Taz “Funky Elvis” Dimtsis said he would latch on to any excuse to dust off his bright red jumpsuit.

“He thought he’d be forgotten, that’s the thing. And look at him, he’s bigger than ever,” he told AFP as a tribute act crooned Elvis hits on a nearby stage.

“It’s fantastic,” he added before showing off his best hip swing.

The excited Elvis lovers primped their pompadours and mopped sweat-soaked fake sideburns as they waited for the train in Sydney’s muggy summer humidity.

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Performers board a train to the annual Elvis festival.

Sporting an eye-catching costume adorned with glittering blue sequins, Jenny Dollin said she could barely contain her excitement.

“When you get to Parkes, the whole town is just out there to meet you. Makes me cry,” the 45-year-old told AFP.

The first Elvis Festival was held in Parkes in 1993, the brainchild of local restaurant owners Bob and Anne Steel.

Today, the town of around 10,000 people proudly wears its moniker: “The Elvis capital of Australia”.

Held across five days, this year’s event will feature lookalike competitions, Elvis poetry, art exhibitions, and dozens of musical tributes.

Hundreds of fans had all this to look forward to as their Parkes-bound train pulled out of Sydney on Thursday morning, just two minutes behind schedule.

“We can confirm, Elvis has left the building,” the platform announcer said.