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.