Five hours west of Sydney, on the dusty fringe of the Australian outback, lies a small town called Parkes. The place is probably best known for its giant satellite dish: one of only three around the world that was used to broadcast the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Slightly lesser known is the fact that the town, with a population of just over 11,000 people, almost triples in size every January to host the largest Elvis Festival in the Southern Hemisphere.
There's not a single connection between Elvis and this otherwise quiet Australian country town. In fact Parkes is situated some 9,000 miles from The King's birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi. But in 1992, a pair of diehard fans set up a one-night event at a Parkes restaurant to commemorate Elvis' birthday. Two hundred people turned out to celebrate. A year later, a one-night performance attracted 100 more—and thus the annual Elvis Festival was born.
Over 27 years the event has grown into an annual, five-day, council-run festival that attracts Elvis enthusiasts from around the world. For a town with a yearly average household income that's about $30,000 lower than the rest of the state, it also provides a vital injection into the local economy—while giving the locals a reason to stay inland, dress up, and party during what's typically one of the hottest months of the year.
Here's some photos from the event as it played out last month. All by Igor Hill, who is on Instagram