Surrounding the cultured Australian city of Armidale are the wild gorges and ghost towns of a disreputable past. When Martin Ainsworth, disgraced English teacher, escapes home to this sedate New England centre, he imagines a reflective interlude designed to pull his life into shape.
His memories of Armidale include youthful love, intellectual challenge and ambition. This optimistic version of his life collapses when a casual meeting with Annie Marshall, his first love, reveals that the past is anything but dead. At the same time, Martin’s ex-wife lands him with the fulltime care of his resentful teenage son.
Confused by these issues, Martin turns to Sara, the woman from whom he rents an apartment. Unlike the passionate Annie, Sara Carmody is cool, fashionable and financially secure. However, her efficient manner conceals a soft heart damaged by past losses. Under Martin’s influence, Sara faces her own regretful memories.
While Martin tries to plan a course between love and duty, and Sara and Annie confront their own decisions, it is the children who can only stand by, innocent participants in the break-ups and regroupings of modern family life and love.