South Australia, 1897: a failed business, a seventh mouth to feed, below-the-belt taunts from rich Uncle Priestley. Then Mr. Angus agrees to English cousin Bruce's suggestion--raise the sunken steamer and refit her for river trading--and The Pelican is launched, operated by The Family Company--David, Philip, Joanna and Tim (f.) Angus, their parents, and Bruce. The kids have individual interests (painting, boats, engineering, etc.) but they find out about shared efforts too. It's not smooth sailing--prowlers, rival plotters, and faulty piston rods--but down to the finish of the railroad/steamer race it's fast-paced and goo-natured.