Martin Maynard is born into an English country family in the “hungry twenties” of the 1800’s, a period of depression, unrest and hopelessness.Fortunate to have a secure life because of his father’s position as bailiff of the great Ashburton Estate, life is good until his father dies prematurely and the family has to leave the estate. Facing a life of abject poverty, he deliberately commits a crime in order to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land where he hopes to build a better life.
Martin reaches Hobart in 1844 and, after serving his probation deep in the wilderness, he gets a job as a farm hand working for a wealthy ex-convict. Through hard work and quick wits he gradually wins a place for himself in this strange new world. Yet despite his advances, Martin is still faced with tragedy and misfortune.
Always ambitious, he tries his luck on the Victorian gold fields in the great rushes of the 1850’s. Martin faces daunting obstacles, but he is driven by his love for Rebecca and his wish to be seen as a gentleman.