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American Road Trip part four: Elvis' Deep South

09:00 AEST Thu Nov 11 2010
Thoroughly enjoying their journey through the southern states of America, Clare, James, Katie and Matt discovered a few more things Tennessee had to offer before moving on to Mississippi.

Missed the first three parts of the American Road Trip? Catch up on the road trippers' recent adventures in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Nashville:


Elvis Presley was just 22 when he bought this beautiful mansion in 1957. It's on a six-hectare estate and in those days, the surrounding area was rural.

Tourists flock there, particularly on significant "Elvis days". There are three tour options: Graceland mansion tour, Graceland platinum tour and Graceland entourage VIP tour. They range from one to three hours. Visitors enter the living and music room, jungle room which was used as a recording studio, and racquet building where many games of racquetball were played, one between Elvis and his cousin hours before his death.

A display of sequined jumpsuits and stage costumes worn by Elvis between 1969 and 1977 is a highlight. There are photographs of Elvis' parents Vernon and Gladys and his daughter Lisa Marie throughout the rooms.

Sun Studio

Shuttle buses run between Graceland and Sun Studio, which is another interesting place to visit. The focus is on Sam Phillips, a record producer, label owner and talent scout who played a vital role in the emergence of rock and roll. He is credited with the discovery of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Elvis recorded his first five songs there, and changed the world of music forever.

Range Master

Now here's something different. Range Master holds intensive weekend courses covering the essential skills involved in fighting with a handgun! In two days students learn how to shoot and reload quickly.

They fire up to 1000 rounds of ammunition over the weekend and need to turn up with a good handgun, holster, belt, magazine pouch and concealment garment. They suggest taking along a second gun "in case something breaks on your primary gun". All that for just US$400!

Now that everyone learned how to protect themselves, it was back into the RV and on to Mississippi.

Elvis' Birthplace Park

The most significant landmark of Tupelo's modern history is a modest, two-room house where Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935. His twin brother was stillborn. The humble home was built by his father, grandfather and uncle for just $180. About 50,000 visitors go there every year to pay homage to the King of Rock and Roll.

The family had hard financial times and moved many times, but the Presleys instilled old-fashioned values in their son. They attended the Assembly of God church where he was exposed to the gospel music that influenced his musical style.

The city bought the house and land with money from a 1957 concert Elvis gave in Tupelo. He wanted a park for neighbourhood children and the six hectares of Elvis Presley Park has a Walk of Life surrounding the house of his birth. A museum traces his road to fame and has a collection of clothing including riding boots and yes, another jumpsuit. The Chapel, built by donations from his fans, offers a time for meditation.

It has a life-size Elvis at 13 statue of the King as a boy in oversized overalls, open-collar shirt and plain shoes, evidence of the humble beginnings.

Tupelo Hardware

Serving the city since 1926, Tupelo Hardware is considered by Elvis fans as the second most important site in town. It is where Gladys Presley bought her son his first guitar.

The store is owned and managed by the third generation of the Booth family and the three-storey building still has the original music counter as well as all the other goodies you would expect to find in a hardware store.

Tupelo Auto Museum

Featuring 11,000 square metres of automobile displays and open viewing restoration bays, this is a car lover's heaven. There are more than 100 antique, classic and collectible automobiles, chronologically displayed, illustrating more than 100 years of design and engineering.

You will see an 1886 Benz, representing the birth of the automobile and a never-driven 1994 Dodge Viper. The collection, valued at more than US$6 million includes a rare Tucker and a Lincoln owned by Elvis. He gifted many cars, not only to the museum but to random people he thought might need a set of wheels.

Related gallery: American road trip part three: Nashville and Kentucky

Related gallery: American road trip part two: Indiana and Kentucky

Related gallery: American Road Trip part one: Chicago


The American states of Tennessee and Mississippi.


Graceland prices for 2011 are: mansion tours around $31 for adults and $14 for children; platinum tours $35 and $17; and Elvis entourage VIP tours are $70 each for everyone.

Elvis Presley birthplace tours are $4 for the house, $8 for the museum, $6 for the church and $12 for a combination. Children's prices are $2, $4, $3 and $6 respectively.

Tupolo Auto Museum entry is $10 for adults and $5 for children. It is open every day, except on public holidays.

Apollo has a special rate for Getaway viewers, with an 8.2m six-berth Eclipse Camper RV for 12 days from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas for $1299. There is a free upgrade to a 9.4m Apollo US Wanderer for booking online. The offer is valid for travel until March 31, 2011. Log on to for all the details.

If you want to travel closer to home, Apollo has a pre-Christmas special in Australia and New Zealand. Log on to and use the booking code: APUSGETE.

Numbers for both are limited.

V Australia has flights to Los Angeles from:

  • Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $1339
  • Adelaide $1639
  • Perth $1939

On sale until November 18, 2010, for travel between January 17 and March 31, 2011.

Prices correct November 11, 2010.

For further information

V Australia

Ph: 1800 777 779

3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Memphis, Tennessee 38186-0508
Ph: +1 901 332 3322

Sun Studio
706 Union Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
United States
Ph: +1 901 521 0664

Range Master
2611 S Mendenhall Road
Memphis, Tennessee 38115-1503
United States
Ph: +1 901 370 5600

Elvis Presley Birthplace
306 Elvis Presley Drive
Tupelo, Mississippi 38801
Ph: +1 662 841 1245

Tupelo Hardware
114 West Main Street
Tupelo, Mississippi 38801
United States
Ph: +1 662 842 4637

Tupelo Auto Museum
45 Main Street
Tupelo, Mississippi 38801
Ph: +1 662 842 4242

For more information, visit

Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months' validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at

Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.

Time zone: Memphis and Tupelo are GMT -6.

Currency: The American dollar.

International dialling code: +1.

User comments
Rachael, you make several excellent points. People need to look at the footage of the episode again. Compared to the US, our gun control legislation is very sensible. I applauded our government at the time (after the Port Arthur shootings) for taking a common sense approach to gun control. Unfortunately, we regularly see shooting sprees in the US, enabled most likely, by the ready availability of guns over there. Clare's comments should be taken in light of this. Her comments were her response to one man's attitude, that is all. She certainly DIDN'T insult all Americans. And, as Rachael says, the American media did go to town over the Harry Connick Jnr incident, labelling us (and our humour) as backward. Clare's point regarding that incident is therefore very pertinent. Well done Channel Nine for airing her thoughts and enlivening the show. I look forward to the next episode.
I have just discovered this thread and I really don't see what all the fuss is about. Claire expressed her own opinion (since when is that a crime?) and Channel 9 decided her comments were worth putting on the show. The editors and producers would have shot heaps of footage during the road trip and they had the final say on what was used. We weren't there to see everything that went on and it is all too easy to take comments out of context. I say good on Claire for speaking her mind. Like others in this thread, I was disgusted at the use of ethnic and racial stereotypes for "targets". BTW her comments about Australians holding hands were obviously said in light hearted fashion and not meant to be taken literally!
Exuse me, Jon. Please refer to the comments "Elvis' Deep South" and "insulted by young genious's opinion of americans" and you will find that they were the American jerks I was talking about. I'm off to go abuse some Americans because that's apparently what all Aussies do.
Look, it's a woman with an opinion... GET HER!!!!
I was very dissapointed your team missed so much in Memphis. I am a great Elvis fan & visited in 2001 for the first time when I discovered there is so much more to see .They never mentioned The Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street ,Sun Studios , Stax Studeos or the Rock N Roll Museum or GibsonGuitar works not to mention the mightyMississippiRiver.I know there is limited time but the segment on the Gun shop was a complete negative waste of time.The visit to Tupelo was was also very short on information & missed out lots of information & things to do.I have visited Memphis every year bar one since 2001 & so far still have not seen all there is to see.In 2001 I was at Graceland on September 8 & then travelled on to Washington DC. I was packed ready to move on when the plane hit the Pentagon which meant I was there for another 4 days. As I was attacted along with the Americans I have returned as often as possible & will be there on September 11 2011 to be with them again.Keep up the good wor
Since when has expressing an opinion been against the law! We were not privy to everything the travellers heard and saw at the shooting range. It is drawing a pretty long bow to say that she was criticising all Americans. To me, her comment was prompted by the attitude of one person. for all we know there was a lot more to this story. Channel 9 might have wanted to stir things up a little.
Forget about Clair's comments. Did no-one else think it was silly for Katie and Mat to be dancing in a moving vehicle?
Hahaha what!? I came on here to say good on her for raising the issue of gun violence. I'm so glad it came up! I like seeing some political issues being brought into the perfect world of Getaway. I think you people need to watch the video again. She NEVER called Americans ignorant or idiots! She called one redneck at a gun ranch ignorant. Which is an opinion I share! And she also didn't call Americans backwards! She was responding to Harry Conick Jnr's generalisation of Australians as backward because of one bad taste sketch done on Hey Hey it's Saturday. Which is a generalisation the American media went to town on. And I think if that's the example they use to portray us as a backward nation, she makes a good point to bring up the example of them thinking it's ok to allow people to shoot guns at printouts of black people. Gun violence and racism are never OK, and if you compare our gun laws to Americans, we do have common sense. Just look at the statistics. Good on her...
To the last commenter who decided to defend this woman's refusal to understand other cultures by attacking some of the other people who are commenting here... If you had the ability to read, you would have noticed that the comments were by Australians. Your slur "you American jerks" and your comment that the whole world "doesn't revolve around you, America" literally make no sense in this context. My suggestion? Learn reading comprehension before putting your fingers to the keyboard. Thank goodness the whole world doesn't revolve around idiots who have no understanding of a written language.
What Claire said was not offensive. What WAS offensive was a place where pictures of mexicans and black people are used as targets! Why don't the Claire haters comment on that?

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