There is a growing contemporary body of literature about the 'new mobilities' - increasingly mobile populations and their impacts on local economies, particularly in more sparsely populated areas of developed nations. Much of the focus has been on the 'fly in/fly out' workforce associated with mining projects, but attention has also been paid to increasing numbers of 'fly in/fly out' workers in the health sector, the changing nature of tourist populations, the use of temporary contract labour for government administration, and the movement of Indigenous people from remote communities into urban centres. This paper uses five case examples in South Australia and the Northern Territory (Australia's 'spine') to examine the diversity of experiences of the new mobilities. The paper presents a framework for investigating new mobilities at the local settlement level through developing an understanding of macro and micro factors driving mobility and the consequences in terms of aspects of social and economic distance between mobile populations and host communities. The framework provides for useful insights to be drawn from secondary data sources including the Australian Census and tourist surveys. The paper concludes that the geographic characteristics of short term mobility observed in this research essentially conform to the 'Eight Ds' model of the human and economic geography of sparsely populated areas. � 2014 Elsevier Ltd.