When Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon in 1969, it was the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (aka the Dish) that broadcast the event around the world. The much-loved Parkes Elvis Festival is the largest and most vibrant celebration of the music of Elvis Presley in the southern hemisphere.
Situated on undulating plains west of the Great Dividing Range, Parkes is home to the national icon, ‘The Dish’.
When Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon in 1969, it was the ‘The Dish’ (aka CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope) that broadcast the event around the world. Now visitors travel to this Country NSW destination to learn about the radio telescope as well as astronomy.
The much-loved Parkes Elvis Festival was founded in 1992 by local restaurateurs and Elvis fans Bob Steel. Featuring international and Australian Elvis tribute artists, competitions, the ever-popular street parade, markets and days of free entertainment, Parkes Elvis Festival remains the largest and most vibrant celebration of the music of Elvis Presley in the southern hemisphere.
Being situated at the cross roads of the Newell Highway, connecting Melbourne and Brisbane and the transcontinental railway linking the east coast to Adelaide, Perth and Darwin, Parkes is one of the most significant locations in the future of transport and logistics in Australia.
Visit Peak Hill’s historic goldmine, enjoy water sports at Lake Cargelligo, and don’t miss the climb up Mt Tilga near Condobolin.
The Parkes area remained relatively unsettled until 1862 when the discovery of gold led to a hastily erected ‘canvas’ town known as “Currajong” which accommodated thousands of hopeful gold seekers.
A further discovery of gold in 1871 at the nearby Bushman’s Gold Mine helped the district to become one of the richest gold producing areas in the colony.
In 1873 the then Premier of New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes, showed his interest in the district by visiting the diggings. On December 1, 1873 the name of the settlement was changed from Bushmans to Parkes in honour of the great statesman.
Sir Henry Parkes visited Parkes in 1887 and gave the town the Fontana Bust, which is displayed at Parkes Shire Council. In that same year Parkes changed the name of its main street to ‘Clarinda’ – Lady Parkes’ christian name.
To the north Peak Hill was established as a separate goldfield in the 1890s. The historic Peak Hill mine operated between 1893 and 1917 producing about 60,000 ounces from 500,000 tonnes of rock.
Alkane re-excavated for gold on the site between 1996 and 2002 retrieving 145,000 ounces gold from 4.9 million tonnes of rock.
While most of the historic operations were consumed by the recent mining activity, some of the old workings have been preserved. The Peak Hill Open Cut Experience includes both the historic works and the more recent mines with several walking paths and viewing platforms having been constructed.
As mining diminished in importance, the plough, the combine and the harvester became the new symbols of progress.
Parkes Shire contains some of the richest and most productive agricultural and grazing land in New South Wales. Wheat, barley, canola, oats, oilseeds and winter legumes are grown annually. Fields of canola can be seen flowering in magnificent blankets of yellow during late August/ September.
Peak Hill was in fact the site of Australia’s first public wheat silo in 1918. Sheep grazing lands are predominant in Parkes Shire, producing significant volumes for both the wool and meat markets.