Business, Finance & Economics

Prostitutes striking it rich in Australia's mining boom


A sex worker poses in a room at the upmarket Xclusive brothel in Sydney's Bondi Junction on July 1, 2008.


Greg Wood

A polite terms for them would be "camp followers," and they have been a familiar presence in military campaigns and mining camps throughout history.

Women who do everything from day-to-day chores like fetching water, cooking and laundering clothes to providing sexual services to troops and miners — especially those who've struck pay dirt. 

(Prostitutes were reputedly among the camp followers following behind marching troops during the American Revolution — the suggestion being that the term "hooker" derives from those women servicing the Army of the Potomac when Union general Joseph Hooker was in command.)

Now, a new breed of camp follower is reportedly making a killing in the booming mining towns of Queensland, Australia — call girls arriving from as far away as New Zealand and, according to The Courier-Mail, "making as much money in one or two days as mine laborers earn in a week."

Some are even using the "fly-in, fly-out" method favored by miners who prefer to keep their primary residence in a bigger town or city and only live at the mine site for the days or weeks they're required to work.

The rich pickings up to $2000 a day are attracting scores of women to communities bursting with cashed-up men deprived of female company for weeks.

The women stay for a few days, or weeks, in hotels, motels or caravan parks before flying home or moving on to the next mining town in a circuit.

One enterprising prostitute even converted a stretch limousine for use as a mobile workplace in pub parking lots, according to the paper.

Prostitutes can work legally as long as they don't solicit publicly. The girls working in Queensland mining areas such as Emerald, Clermont, Dysart and Blackwater reportedly announce their arrival with ads in the local paper. 

The Courier-Mail interviewed three women — one from Brisbane, one from New Zealand and a local single mother of three, all of whom reported easy pickings and high earnings.  

The article rightly canvases the downside of such an unregulated commercial sex industry: rising rates of venereal disease being the most worrying.

One enterprising brothel owner in Brisbane offers an alternative of sorts — fly-in, fly-out sex sessions in the safe environs of her establishment, The Viper Room.

It's better for them to fly down here and enjoy time with one of our girls in luxury and in a safe, discreet environment," said Glenn Leeds, co-owner of Brisbane brothel The Viper Room.

"They fly in and out on their rostered time off. It's easy. The clients know that we run a safe business and the girls are top-class. They usually stay twice as long as the average client and if they want to spend the night in the city we can find them accommodation in a quality hotel."