In 1806 William Thornhill is transported for life from the slums of London to New South Wales. His arrival with wife Sal and their children at first feels like a death sentence. But Thornhill discovers the colony can turn a person into a free man, and eight years later he sails up the Hawkesbury and claims his own patch of ground. However, from the moment he sets foot on this land he has the feeling of being watched by the original inhabitants, the Darug people. There is tension between the Aboriginals and the new settlers, and as the situation spirals out of control Thornhill has to make the toughest decision of his life. Paul Blackwell's reading captures the hopes, dreams, conflict and struggle at the heart of this historical masterpiece.