A lone woman checking into a motel in the Australian mining town of Moranbah can expect a blunt question from the owners: "Are you a working girl?"

Like the miners, many sex workers find working the remote mining towns more lucrative than the economically moribund cities in which they live. But not everyone in small-town Australia welcomes them.

Their arrival has fed into broader fears that transient workers and their urban values pose a threat to a close-knit, rural way of life.

The two main mining states of Queensland and Western Australia have promised or passed laws restricting sex work, which is legal in Australia.