The founding of a society, forged by necessity rather than custom, is the background for the story of Miriam and the 19th century Australian gold rush. When Miriam's first husband dies, herding sheep in the bush, she finds a true friend in Jardie Kerr, a ""cocky bush boyo"" not above stealing and violence when needed, and makes an enemy of lecherous Steverin. She marries young, ambitious Lomarlock and with his death, is married again to Cary, shrewd and sharp, whose fortunes are endangered by the virulent hatred of James Morar and his brood. When Miriam is again widowed, it is in her sons that her hopes for security and peace continue, but it is through them that scandal and trouble follow. And before her death she is forced to confess to Jardie, her champion through the years, that it is she who has been the dishonest one. A vigorous panning of a rough, new country and the people of all sorts who settled it, this is essentially a woman's novel -- of huskier proportions than most.