But for her parents determination to couple her with pastoral agent, John Downing, Jenny Haseltine would never have thought of leaving her home in Yaraandoo. Although John was a pleasant enough young man, Jenny was not in love with him, and never would be - she knew that she needed to get away for a time. The advertisement for a country-style cook for a safari leaving shortly for the Outback seemed heaven-sent, and when Jenny was offered the job thanks to the untiring efforts of Geoff hallam, an old schoolfriend, she was beside herself with joy.
Drew Carey, the "Big Boss Fella" of the safari was a disturbingly fascinating manwho took pains to tell his cook and general rouseabout something of gemstones - the trip to the Outback was supposedly in search of opals - a gesture resented by the beautiful and efficient Nicole Armstrong who obviously felt she had exclusive claim on Drew's attentions. Although Geoff Hallam was always on hand to advise and cheer her, Jenny often felt "left out". But though she knew little of gemstones, Jenny wasn't a farm girl for nothing - she had learned to look out for anything that was out of place, and the behaviour of a stranger aroused her suspicions. Later she learned that it was gold Drew Carey was after, not opals, and her alertness enabled him to be the first to take out "Miner's Rights". And by this time Jenny had discovered who it was she really loved ... - from frontmatter (1975)