Almost everywhere you go in Parkes, you’ll see an image of Elvis Presley. Even though Elvis never visited Parkes, for almost thirty years they’ve been holding a festival here. Held each year in January (to co-incide with his birthday), it’s become a big thing for the community.
“What do you think locals think of it?”, Sue asked over dinner last night. My experience with things like the Tamworth Country Festival is there’s an undercurrent of locals who hate it, and leave town when it occurs. But I’d imagine most locals would probably enjoy it.
As well as the economic injection it brings to the town, in the midst of January you can imagine it also brings a bit of excitement to the town.
Today we visited the tourist centre in Parkes where there’s a number of museum exhibits. The “father of federation”, Sir Henry Parkes is covered. So, too, is some local history, including the story of the Emmanuel Brothers (Phil and Tommy) who grew up here. There’s a terrific motor museum. And there’s an Elvis exhibit too.
I’m no expert on Elvis, but it seemed like a pretty good exhibition. As songs by Elvis played in the background, we walked around reading about his life story, looking at photographs and memorabilia, and finally, watching an interesting video interview with an “Elvis Insider”.
We really enjoyed walking around the museum looking at a range of objects from the past. We recognised many of them, including seeing some of the toys of our childhood. I also spotted the same sewing machine my mum taught me how to sew on. “How did this happen?”, we wondered, “How did the things of our childhood suddenly become OLD?”.
From there we wandered to the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope. Located about 20 minutes from town, the facility played an important role in the first moon landing, relaying images back. The role has been immortalised in the film, “The Dish”
“This is like a thirteen-year-old boys dream holiday”, I joked. Indeed, there were lots of teenage boys who were totally geeking out on it all, as well as some of their parents. There’s a couple of small dishes which are separated by about fifty metres. As you whisper into centre of one, your voice can be heard at the other. There was one bloke we spotted (twice) doing this with his kids, and we thought he was probably having more fun than they were.
For lunch, we headed back into town. A former colleague who grew up in Parkes recommended, “The Paragon”, a local cafe. It was “old school” in both the menu and the prices. Annie told me “chips and gravy” was the favourite meal of her childhood. Today we observed that was still the case for a group of kids having lunch with their grandmother. Sue’s steak sandwich was on white bread with canned beetroot. Costing only $8, it went down a treat. I had an old style banana split ($6) which was equally delightful.