Image copyright Parkes Shire Council Image caption Parkes Mayor Ken Keith says everyone in the town embraces the festival The real King - who would have celebrated his 82nd birthday last week- may never have travelled to Australia, but 40 years after his death, his appeal remains as magnetic as ever. "I remember when he died the world just went crazy. It was a pretty devastating time," said Sheridan Woodcroft from Melbourne, as she boarded the Elvis Express, a special train service from Sydney to Parkes. "He just had the X-factor. He was so charismatic, he was gorgeous." Australia's biggest Elvis festival was borne out of economic necessity. Back in the early 1990s, mid-summer trade in baking-hot Parkes was sluggish but Bob Steel, 75, and his wife Anne, owners of the Gracelands restaurant, had a plan. "It was a pretty slack time. I went to a hoteliers' meeting and they were all having their grizzle about quiet times. I said, well, Elvis's birthday is in January and we could have a birthday party," Mr Steel told the BBC.