Murray Reynolds, an engineer and mathematician who has turned his skills to earning an income from financial markets, retires to a rented cabin at Cedar Flat, a failed resort in what may once have been a cedar forest on the coast of New South Wales. His wife, Julia, keen to further her career, stays in the city, but encourages Murray to assume responsibility for their daughter, Pim, a sullen loner with few life skills. The two are befriended by their neighbour, Laura, to whom Pim looks for support in the face of the unsettling environment of her new home, and her own lack of practical knowledge. Seeking to discover why the resort never succeeded, Murray is met with conflicting tales of long-ago racial injustice and dispossession. The stories he hears of timber-getters, cattlemen, aboriginal massacres, a historic shipwreck, and a curse only leave him more confused. Pim, meanwhile, is gaining confidence from her new school friends. As both Murray and Pim, searching for the true story of Cedar Flat, are taken far beyond their comfort zones, a new beginning becomes possible for them both.