Act 2. Scene 1. The family approaches the Moore River Native Settlement, where Jimmy is building a bush shade. As the family stands there with their belongings, Billy Kimberley, a tracker, comes towards them. The stage directions tell us that he is smoking a clay pipe and carrying a whip.
Sam asks Billy who he is and Billy introduces himself as a politician, but Gran identifies him as a "black tracker," an Aboriginal worker who works for the police. They approach Jimmy, who tells them that the Matron, the Superintendent's wife who runs the hospital, will be there soon.
Jimmy gives Gran some tobacco when she complains about having none, and David wants to go for a swim, but Milly doesn't allow it. Jimmy tells them that they have to get their food at the Soup Kitchen, and the food is bad.
Scene 2. Joe, David, and Cissie are in a clearing, filling a water bag. They cannot see two girls, Topsy and Mary, approaching, carrying a bag of meat. David takes his shirt off to go swimming, when suddenly he sees the girls. "You fellas amongst the Northam lot?" Topsy asks, and they all introduce themselves.
Joe notes how pretty Mary is, which makes David, Cissie, and Topsy giggle. When Topsy tells them they're taking the bag of meat to their Uncle Herbie, Cissie tells her that Herbie is their uncle too. Joe asks Mary if she is related also, and she is not, which makes David and Cissie giggle. Joe gets annoyed and sends them back to the house. Topsy excuses herself as well, and Joe and Mary talk to one another alone. "When will I see you again?" he asks, before asking if she can meet him there tomorrow. "I'm glad we're not related," he says, to which she responds, "So am I," and runs off.
Scene 3. At the Long Pool Camp, at the Reserve, Cissie and David play "knuckle bones," and Milly and Joe come in with water. Eventually, Billy comes in with Matron Neal, Topsy, and Mary.
The Matron assembles the family and asks if everyone is there. "Now I'm the matron, Matron Neal, and I'm in charge of the hospital and Topsy here is helping me," Matron says, before telling the group she's going to examine them for scabies, which is why they are there. The family members insist that they are not sick, but Billy threatens them with his whip, and Matron examines them each one by one. She asks Joe how old he is, and Milly tells her he's almost 17. The Matron determines that no one in the family is sick, but instructs them to wash often. Before she leaves, she asks how many dogs they have and Billy tells her that they have seven.
Scene 4. At the settlement, Joe lets out an owl call, which Mary reciprocates before coming to find him. She hands him a parcel, which contains oven-cooked damper (a kind of soda bread). She tells him that she's been at the settlement for three years and that she hates it there. He asks her if the white people treat her well, and she tells him that Matron and Sister Eileen are okay, but Mr. Neal looks at her strangely and always hangs around where the girls are working. She tells him that a friend of hers got pregnant with a white man's baby after he raped her. The friend had the baby, but a tracker killed it. She begins to cry, and Joe tells her he loves her. Mary says she has to go back or Matron will find out about their meeting, and they kiss.
Scene 5. On a hot morning at the settlement, Jimmy walks around outside the Superintendent's office, when a hungover Mr. Neal approaches. Neal asks him what he's doing there, as he's supposed to be at the quarantine camp. "Come off it, you know that quarantine camp is a load of bullshit, so don't try and tip it over me," Jimmy says, and Neal goes into his office, impatiently.
In his office, Neal leers at Mary, his assistant, as Matron enters. She scolds him for drinking so much, and tells him that only four Aborigines have scabies. "Are you telling me out of 89 dumped on me, only 4 of them have got the bloody disease?" Neal says, angrily. Matron tells her husband that there are about 50 dogs on the reserve and many of them pose a health risk. Hearing this, Neal grabs his rifle and calls for Billy to get the horses and a length of rope.
Scene 6. Jimmy and Sam are painted for a corroboree, an Aboriginal dance ceremony. Billy and Bluey enter and remove their shirts, before painting themselves. Jimmy strikes a rhythm with some sticks and sings his grandfather's song, a song asking for the crabs and fish to come to the surface to get caught. Then, Billy does a dance, as Bluey plays the didgeridoo. After he is done, the men all dance, with increasing speed and urgency.
Suddenly, Billy sits and talks about the fact that his country was completely destroyed, while the others at least have theirs. "Guddeeah make 'em fences, windmill, make 'em road or motor car, big house, cut 'em down trees. Still your country! Not like my country, finish...finish," he exclaims. He tells an elaborate story about how his family was wiped out, a gruesome and horrifying tale. As they sit in silence, a night hawk screeches and all the men leave, except Joe.
Joe waits, as the moon begins to rise, and hears Mary doing an owl cry, their signal. She runs over to see him and he asks where she's going to sleep that night. Suddenly, she withdraws and begins to cry about the fact that Neal is trying to get her to work at the hospital, which means that he wants to force himself on her sexually. Joe says she cannot go to the hospital, but she informs him that if she doesn't, Neal will send her home to Wyndham, where she will have to marry an old man. "Mr. Neal not gonna let us get married," Mary tells Joe, and Joe says he wants to run away to Northam. He leads Mary to his parents, so they can tell them their plan.
Scene 7, at the Long Pool Camp, Joe and Mary wake up Milly and Sam to tell them their plan to run away. "There's gotta be some other way than clearin' out," Milly says, and warns her son that he'll go to jail when they get caught. They say their goodbyes and leave. Milly cries as they go, and Jimmy yells some advice for their escape.
Scene 8. At Neal's office, Neal reads the newspaper, when Matron enters and tries to tell him about the escaped couple, but he keeps interrupting her. She finally manages to tell him that Mary and Joe have run away. "It seems she was terrified at the prospect of working in the hospital," Matron says, as Neal calls for Billy. Billy agrees to go in search of them with his whip.
Scene 9. In a clearing near the railroad, Mary is sleeping under a blanket and Joe gently wakes her. He gives her some quandong and tells her to eat it with sugar, when suddenly she vomits. Joe puts a blanket around her and comforts her, as Billy appears and falls upon them. Joe dodges the whip, as Mary vomits. The men fight, and Joe chokes Billy and handcuffs him. After they have gone through Billy's pockets, they make another run for it.
Act 2 finds the Millimura family at the Moore River Native Reserve, a place no better equipped than the Government Well, with a soup kitchen that doesn't provide meat and some tight security. The family is disoriented by the move and has to get used to the new difficulties associated with living at Moore River, but they still have one another. Throughout all the difficulties they face, the Millimura family remains a tight-knit family unit.
We are introduced to some new characters at the Moore River Native Reserve, including the young girls, Mary and Topsy. Joe immediately takes a liking to Mary, much to the amusement of his younger siblings, Cissie and David, and they discover that they are related through marriage to Topsy. The introduction of these new characters broadens the scope of the play, and for the first time we see the Millimura family interacting with other Indigenous individuals outside their immediate unit.
Joe's interest in Mary escalates quickly, and soon after meeting, they begin seeing one another in private for romantic rendezvous. Joe not only loves Mary, but wants to protect her from the white men who are trying to force themselves on her. As Mary tells him the stories of friends who have gotten pregnant after being raped by white men, he comforts her and tells her he loves her, vowing to become her protector from the hardships of living under exploitative white authority.
In spite of the obstacles to living, the Aborigines are able to preserve their culture in vibrant and life-affirming ways, as we see in scene 6, in which the men engage in a corroboree. Playwright Davis stages a full corroboree, an Aboriginal ceremonial dance, and the audience gets to see the joy of ritual that the Aborigines maintain on the reserve, even in the wake of so much mistreatment and dehumanization. Stripped of their rights and their humanity, the Aborigines are able to connect with their history and roots in ancient customs.
The plot kicks into high gear when Mary and Joe decide to escape from the reserve in order to carve out a better life for themselves. Mary, left with no choice but to either work at the hospital, where she will surely be raped by Neal, or get sent back home, where she will have to marry a much older man, sees no alternative but to go away with Joe, and Joe is determined to protect the woman he loves. They manage to get a good ways away, but Mary falls ill and they are apprehended by the venomous Billy. With the escape of the two star-crossed lovers, the stakes of the play rise considerably.