When Jim Craig's (Tom Burlinson) father is killed, the neighboring men drive the 18-year-old boy off his homestead in the mountains of Australia, telling him he has to earn the right to live up there. Jim heads to the "flats" to earn the money and respect he needs to return home. He lands a job working for Harrison (Kirk Douglas), a rich cattle rancher with spirited teenage daughter, Jessica (Sigrid Thornton), and twin brother, "Spur" (also played by Kirk Douglas), a mountain miner who is Jim's friend. The story is rich with subplots, love, rivalry, old secrets, accusations and distrust. In order to achieve adult status, Jim must prove his worth and integrity beyond what's expected of the men who try to keep him down. Jessica also has to slip free of her suspicious, controlling father to pursue the life that she wants.