When Perfection Middleton catches the eye of Darcy Buchanan, all hell breaks loose. Joint heir to the vast estate of Caravale in North Queensland, Darcy's a catch all right, and far too good for a lowly housemaid. That's what his family thinks, anyway, and his brother Ben does all he can to prevent the marriage; a scheme that goes tragically wrong... Lew Cavour is very taken with Perfy, too, but he gets caught up in the gold rush and the race to stake a claim on the river of gold, as does Ben Buchanan, who is determined to buy out Perfy's share of Caravale. But their journey to the river is dogged by disease, madness and murder. Diamond, an aborigine girl, has a profound effect on all their lives. Too intelligent to be content as the menial slave to which her colour condemns her, too sophisticated to return to her tribe, she feels at odds with both worlds.