Named after the father of Australian federation, the town of Parkes was once best known for its radio telescope that helped broadcast the moon landing. Today, this beautiful heritage town in Country NSW, famous for the hordes of Elvis fans who make an annual pilgrimage to honour the King.
Parkes Elvis Festival
The Parkes Elvis Festival is an unmissable event. It is usually held in January to celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday, however in 2021 the festival will take place in March. Elvis impersonators and fans flock here every year to pay tribute to the man who taught us how to shake our hips. Even if you're not a fan, it's worthwhile slipping on your blue suede shoes to see what all the fuss is about.
Things to do
One of the reasons why 600 million people saw Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon can be found here. The CSIRO Parkes Observatory's radio telescope, which Australians irreverently nicknamed The Dish, helped broadcast the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969, giving Parkes a place in history.
The Henry Parkes Centre, Sir Henry Parkes was a colonial politician credited as the father of Australian federation, incorporates the Parkes Visitor Information Centre and four impressive museums, including the Parkes Motor Museum and the King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit, which contains a collection of Elvis' personal artefacts.
Gold fever struck the Parkes region in 1861 and it's worth exploring the district’s goldmining heritage on one of the Gold Trails. Visit Peak Hill, an old open-cut gold mine which opened in 1893, there are free, self-guided walking trails and it is only a 35 minute scenic drive north of Parkes.
Eat and drink
Enjoy a bite to eat and great views of the telescope at The Dish Cafe, or take advantage of the free gas barbecues and cook your own lunch. The Railway Hotel offers the quintessential country pub experience. Just northwest of Parkes is the Trundle Hotel, a heritage-listed pub built in 1912 that boasts the longest verandah in NSW.
Getting there and where to stay
Parkes is just under five hours’ drive from Sydney, almost eight hours from Melbourne and around three hours from Canberra. You can also travel by train direct from Sydney on Mondays. Places to stay include motels, country pubs, B&Bs, historic homesteads and caravan parks.