One family traced from the 1860s to the 1980s, beginning with Cornelius Laffey, an Irish-born journalist. Wresting his kin from the easy living of 19th century Sydney, he takes them to northern Queensland where thousands of hopefuls are digging for gold in the mud. The family confronts the horror of aboriginal dispossession, and Cornelius is sacked for reporting the slaughter. The cycles of generations turn, one over the other. Only some things change. That world and this world both have their Catholic priests, their bigots, their radicals.