'Here is an unforgettable woman. A woman as strong and as beautiful as the raw new country she helps to carve from the wilderness. A woman of fierce pride, yet gently devoted to her children, and possessed with an undying vision about the future of her land, Sara Dane epitomizes the heart of her untamed country - Australia.
'Set in the colorful days of the late Eighteenth and the early Nineteenth Centuries, Sara Dane unfolds the history of New South Wales, from its beginnings as a penal colony to the day when it could lift its head in contentment and peace.
'From the day in 1792 when young Sara, savagely sentenced in England to transportation on a trumped-up charge, came ashore at Botany Bay, until the day she returns triumphantly wealthy and prominent to her native London, her story rings with the fire of a great passion.
'Sara's story is also the story of the men who loved her - Richard Barwell, her childhood love who possessiveness followed her thousands of miles; Andrew Maclay, whose strength and cunning combined with hers to produce an empire; Jeremy Hogan, the Irish rebel, whose presence meant security as Sara faced the crises of convict outbreaks, giant floods, and armed rebellion with resolution. And then there was Louis de Bourget, the mysterious French emigre' whose love for her beauty and order brought a peace to Sara's life she had thought impossible.
'But throughout her life, Sara held to her own personality tenaciously. All of Sydney knew her as a shrewd business-woman, magnificent, unconventional - but above all, a woman. ' (Publication summary)
A television mini-series based on the best-selling 1955 novel by Catherine Gaskin and produced by the South Australian Film Corporation, Sara Dane is set in the days of early colonial Australia. It portrays the rags-to-riches story of a woman with a driving ambition to achieve independence, power, and wealth, despite having been sent to a New South Wales penal colony for a crime she did not commit.
While Sara is being transported by ship to Australia, officials discover that she is educated. She subsequently becomes a governess for a free couple. She later accepts a marriage proposal from an officer, Andrew Maclay, and together they establish a small property and homestead for their family. When Andrew is killed during the Irish rebellion at Castle Hill, she mourns for a period of time before remarrying, this time to French aristocrat Louis de Bourget. They too have children before de Bourget is killed by a fall from a horse. Vowing to never marry again, despite a close friendship with her Irish overseer Jeremy Hogan (himself a former convict), Sara returns to London with her children. There she meets Richard Barwell, the long-ago sweetheart who gave her the gold necklace that led to her conviction for theft. While they are now free to marry, Sara decides not to stay in England. Instead, she returns to Australia, so as to be among the first to establish farming and grazing land in the newly opened region west of the Blue Mountains.