A steadily and substantially interesting story of the late 19th century forest-to-farm conversion of the back country in Victoria, Australia, and the settlement there of William Whitburn, his wife Sarah and their six children. Although William is a formidable father, life has proved him less right and he is now attempting to earn enough money to return to home country in England. There are physical disasters (a forest fire, an infestation of caterpillars) from the time of their first near loss of their only pig, Loo. The children offer another kind of confrontation--from Clarissa, who leaves home for the city for good, to youngest son Simon who runs against his father's wooden grain when he buys a rocker out of his own money for his mother, or asks for a piece of land to protect the family of lyrebirds he has helped bring up. . . . In the clearing--a new way of life seems more possible as well as the hope of education for Simon; on the way what has been established are characters as sturdy and sometimes as demanding as their environment which gives the book its forthright and sometimes affecting believability.