The story is set in the 1850s and begins in County Clare, Ireland. A young Irishman Michael Keogh, a shipwright, returns home to assist Edmund, father in his small farm. Simultaneously, a wealthy British Army Officer, John Hall, arrives at a posting in the town ofKilrush, County Clare. Both eventually travel to Australia in the eventful 1850s, together with an erratic and devious Colonel Paul Lang.
The picturesque Clare country side becomes the backdrop to the dramatic death of a vicious Constable and brings Michael to the attention of the authorities. During this time Michael helps an Irish rebel, Brendan Devlin, to escape to America. Later Brendan would repay this favour to Michael.
A concurrent story also occurs in Clare. During an eviction of a poor farmer, Michael is arrested charged and sentenced to seven years transportation to Van Diemen's Land. During Michael's arrest, Irish National treasures are confiscated by Colonel Lang, the devious Commanding Officer of John Hall's regiment.
John Hall is made responsible for the Irish treasures. Colonel Paul Lang's son Frederick steals the treasures. Colonel Lang charges John Hall with dereliction of duty. Both are to resign. John Hall develops a romantic interest in Michael Keogh's sister Mauve.
Michael has a rough and eventful sea voyage to Hobart and is then shipped to Port Arthur. A shipwright, he is employed in the boat building yard. His prison ordeals highlight the penal system at that time. He and fellow convict, Seamus Lynch, escape from Port Arthur. They learn shearing, change their names and become itinerant shearers working along the Tasmanian coast and soon obtain passage to Victoria.
John Hall voyages to Victoria and joins a Victorian Regiment in the Victorian town of K yneton. His romance is progressing with Mauve.
Paul Lang, travels to New Zealand. He becomes a Major in the Militia and after several incidents with the warlike Maoris, he is found lacking in judgment. He resigns and sails for Victoria and secures a position with the Victorian Police Force and is posted to Kyneton.
Michael and his convict friend Seamus Lynch purchase a farm in Kyneton. However, Seamus is killed by aborigines.
Brendan Devlin, the Irish rebel, and Michael meet again in Kyneton. He helps to recover the Irish treasures from Frederick Lang. Frederick Lang, after a brawl returns to England where he commits suicide. · Michael and his family are reunited. Seamus's sister, Mary Kirwan, eventually arrives in K yneton and marries Michael. Other intervening events contribute to this novel and will keep the reader enthralled.