January 9, 2009 / 1:00 PM / 10 years ago

Shake, rattle and roll aboard the "Elvis Express"

Singer Grahame Patrick performs dressed as Elvis Presley during a show in Berlin, August 15, 2007. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - The hair. The hips. The skin-tight, rhinestone suits. Hundreds of Elvis Presley lookalikes gyrated their way onto the “Elvis Express” on Friday to take part in one of Australia’s biggest tributes to The King.

Some 370 devotees, many decked out with quiff hairstyles, aviator sunglasses, guitars and those infamous suits, will take part in the week-long Countrylink Elvis Festival in Parkes, a town in the Australian outback.

It coincides with what would have been Presley’s 74th birthday on January 8.

“There were plenty of characters at Central (train station) this morning, a good mix of people, young, old and families as well,” Countrylink spokesman Metodi Jovanovski told Reuters.

During the six-hour train trip over mountains and through farming country, fans of Elvis and his actress wife Priscilla Presley will entertain each other, as well as vie for prizes that include the “best dressed on board.”

The Elvis Festival, which is in its sixth year, is expected to attract about 8,000 people to the town of Parkes, 357 km (222 miles) from Sydney, and nearly doubling its population for the duration of the event.

The 2009 programme features events such as an Elvis gospel church service, a street parade and for romantics, there’s the “Back to the Altar with Elvis - Renewal of Wedding Vows” and the “Miss Priscilla Dinner & Big Hair Competition.”

Reporting by Beth Newman, editing by Miral Fahmy

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