Helen and Stuart are staying with the politically disenchanted Gavan in his permanent camp in Gippsland. It is the night of the federal election announcement, and while waiting expectantly for the results to come through the wireless Gavin recounts his days of left-wing activism in his youth. While Stuart, a painter, looks forward to the birth of the nation through art yet to come, Gavin laments the insipid turn-out of his political colleagues, who include none other than the Nationalist-Country Party leader Harding. To the bitter disappointment of Gavan, and the utter disinterestedness of bushman Dick – the type of man in whom Gavan once placed all his political ideals – Harding is re-elected. Yet the play ends with a hopeful toast to the land of 'Australia Felix'.
MICHAEL GAVAN – a writer and politician, about fifty-five
STUART GRAHAM – a young painter
HELEN – his wife
DICK – a bushman, about thirty
WILLIE – Gavan's son, about twenty
'The play is set on the lonely Gippsland coast in the late 19th century. Stumpy Johnson lives by the old Cornish trick of luring ships to destruction and collecting and selling the flotsam and jetsam. Martha Kennedy forces her daughter Madge to become Johnson’s second wife. The police catch up with Johnson and he goes to gaol. During his absence his son by his first marriage and Madge fall in love and live together. A child is born. Johnson is released before his full sentence is served, returns and in his vengence kills the baby, shoots his son and chains Madge to the wall of the house. He whips the bullocks with a barb wire lash which flies back and tears his eyes, the bullocks stampede and rush over him and he staggers back to the house, but of course Madge cannot help him, and wouldn't. He dies and Madge is rescued by a passing coastal vessel which calls in, and Johnson’s corpse is taken on board to be tipped over the side when the vessel is at sea.' (Source : University of New England website)