The Government Well Aboriginal Reserve. 1929. Not too far from Northam. Western Australia. Poverty runs rampant and the Millimurra-Munday family are not special. They too are despondent and filled with despair. The world was fighting a war with each other a decade before and the world is about to suffer from an economic collapse for the next decade. Looking around the Millimurra-Munday estate…you wouldn’t have the slightest idea about such things. The decision to cut back further on the rations provided to the aborigines by the Chief Protector of Aborigines Neville has absolutely nothing to with anything going on elsewhere. It’s an Australian thing.
One day Frank takes up new friend Jimmy Munday on his offer to come to his place for dinner. Frank is not Aboriginal; he’s a white man who used to work a farm. Doesn’t have a job now so a free dinner is not a bad idea at all. During the evening, Frank supplies Jimmy and Jimmy’s brother-in-law Sam with alcohol. Which just so happens to be a crime. The very next day Frank is charged for this crime and gets a sentence of six weeks in jail. Jimmy gets three months while Sam receives just a fine. In the wake of this incident, Sergeant Carrol receives orders to give the bum’s rush to the tribal population. They will be forcibly exiled from Government Well Reserve to Moore River Settlement. The stated reason for this move is protection against an outbreak of scabies. Everybody knows better. Even the matron at Moore River once she inspects the members of the family and discovers that no scabies are to be found.
Resistance is futile, but you have to fight. Until you have to give up and so the families make the movie to the Moore River Settlement where they fall under the authority of Superintendent Neal. Sam’s son Joe falls in love with Mary. Neal decides he is going to get Mary a position at the hospital. This upsets everyone because everybody pretty much knows that is code for Neal getting the underage girl into a position where he can molest her. So Joe and Mary make the decision to run away back to Government Well. No sooner does Supt. Neal get word of this than he orders a guy known not too affectionately as Billy the Tracker to track them. When Billy the Tracker trails the runaways to the train tracks, a scuffle ensues, but Joe manages to get the upperhand as well as well as getting Billy the Tracker’s hands into his own cuffs.
The celebration is short-lived. Upon reaching their destination, Joe and Mary discover to their horror that the camp has been utterly destroyed, forcing them to fend for themselves. When Sergeant Carrol discovers them, he decides to arrest Joe and send the now-pregnant Mary back to Moore River where is once again ordered by Neal to work in the hospital. When she refuses, he beat her with whip and afterward Mary escapes to stay with Joe’s family.
Meanwhile, preparations are being made for the big speech that Neville is expected to give in celebration of Australia Day. Coincident with listening to the speech is the heart attack that claims the life of Jimmy, an occurrence which has absolutely no emotional effect at all upon Supt. Neal.
Joe returns not long after Mary gives birth to their baby boy which he decides to name in honor of Jimmy. After seeing marks left on Mary by Neal’s whip, the two decide to file for permission to leave the settlement. Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, Neal agrees to let the two leave; dependent, of course, on signing a statement clearly outlining his terms and conditions.
The trio head to Northam amid gifts and song.