After his parents die, John Summers grows up on his relatives' sheep grazing property situated in central western New South Wales. Although treated as an outcast by his adoptive family, John has a close relationship with his grandmother, who holds a mysterious secret relating to John's past.
Tired of his treatment by the family, John, aged 18, pilfers a considerable sum of money from his grandmother and disappears. He spends time exploring properties to purchase in New South Wales, finally buying a rundown cattle property near Cooma. His guilt consumes him as he accumulates properties and builds his own dynasty, marrying a compliant woman and having children, who also follow in John's footsteps. All the time, John fears facing the consequences of his shocking theft and guilt weighs heavily on him. He sets in train many events, all which have the potential for far-reaching ramifications into the future-for him as well as for others.