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It is the 1890s and the prosperous years are gone. Drought and depression are biting hard across the outback. The falling price of wool triggers violent confrontation between the pastoralists and the shearers union. Banks across Australia begin to close their doors as property values plummet. Thomas Landerville is a small landholder caught between a crippling mortgage and a parched property that can no longer support his flock. His wife Isabelle is a resourceful woman of the outback but like her husband, she is wondering how they can survive. Alone at home, through the heat haze in the distance Isabelle sees an old swagman pushing a loaded wheelbarrow towards her and anticipates that he will ask for a meal and a cup of tea. But she loads the shotgun and leans it behind the door "just in case". Little does she know of the many ways this old swagman will change her life and that of her family.