The story is set deep in the mountainous rainforest region in Northern New South Wales during the Second World War. Arthur Hayes, a Gallipoli veteran, was employed by the Department of Agriculture to control cattle tick infestation. Doug (the author) had never attended school on a permanent basis except for correspondence lessons.
At age 11, Doug met his only childhood peer and companion, a young Aboriginal girl, Veronica. She was the granddaughter of an old Aboriginal couple, Old Harry and Bella, descendants of the Bundulung people. Danny formed a firm bond of friendship with Veronica and learned much from his close association with the family. He was made privy to the seen and unseen of Aboriginal culture, which he respected.
Veronica attended a primary school in a small town some 50 kilometres away and came to her grandparents for the school holidays. She suffered racial hatred both at school and in the small town and bore the scars of conflict and humiliation in her daily life. She often vented her fury on Doug. This confused the lad for he failed to understand how the colour of one’s skin could instigate hatred.
The bottom fell from Doug’s world at the untimely death of his father. Doug’s mother and he moved to a small village near the coast where the boy was able to attend a school for the first time. The culture shock was devastating. The sharing and caring he had learned from his Aboriginal friends did not fit the rough-and-tumble, dog-eat-dog culture of his new school peers. This, plus the attitude of an unsympathetic teacher, was too much for the boy, and he ran away and headed back to the bush.