(Sydney) Elvis Presley impersonators converged on Sydney Central Station on Thursday to board the Blue Suede Express and join an annual pilgrimage in tribute to the King.

The train takes them to the small farming town of Parkes, which welcomes some 25,000 fans each year to its Elvis festival.

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) never sang a single note in Australia, let alone in Parkes which is about 350 kilometers from Sydney, but that’s no problem for Australian fans of the king of rock and roll .

Impersonator Taz “Funky Elvis” Dimtsis says any excuse is good to dust off his bright red jumpsuit.

“He thought we’d forget about him, actually. And look at him, he’s bigger than ever,” he told AFP as a group sang Elvis’ hits on a nearby stage.

“It’s fantastic,” he says with an enthusiastic sway of his hips.

Elvis lovers replace their fanny packs and wipe the sweat from their sideburns as they wait for the train in the sweaty humidity of the Sydney summer.

Sparkling in her blue sequined costume, Jenny Dollin can barely contain her excitement.

“When you arrive in Parkes, the whole town is there to welcome you. I’m crying,” the 45-year-old Elvis fan told AFP.

The first Elvis Festival in Parkes took place in 1993, initiated by local restaurateurs Bob and Anne Steel. Today, this town of some 10,000 inhabitants claims its nickname “the Elvis capital of Australia”.

Held over five days, this year’s event features lookalike contests, Elvis-inspired poetry, art exhibitions and dozens of musical tributes.

That’s the program that awaited hundreds of fans aboard the Parkes-bound train which left Sydney on Thursday morning just two minutes late. “We can confirm that Elvis has left the station,” an officer said over the loudspeaker.