Tells the story of a 1920's runaway who escapes to the river and works on a paddle boat steamer.
In the great Australian tradition of All The Rivers Run, based on Max Fatchen’s novels The River Kings and Conquest of the River, this four-part miniseries captures the perilous life along South Australia’s Murray River and the many adventures aboard the paddleboat steamer Lazy Jane during the 1920s.
With his father absent and life on the land an interminable struggle, sixteen year-old Shawn Hofner (Tamblyn Lord) is forced to leave behind farm life and find work to support his family. The one sure thing that offers up hope is the Murray River and Shawn takes up a job as a deck-hand on a reliable steamboat run by well-seasoned Captain Elijah (Bill Kerr, Gallipoli).
It is a tough existence for a naive boy on the rapid flowing river, with danger and discovery around every bend. During Shawn’s many trips up and down the river he is destined to experience first-hand the tough and unforgiving temperament of nature, navigating life’s great adventure and the many tragedies and triumphs that come floating his way.
Fatherless and struggling to keep the family farm afloat, young and naïve Shawn is forced to leave his family behind and take a job as a deckhand for the Lazy Jane river boat under Captain Elijah. He realizes he may have bitten off a little more than he can chew when he falls into the Murray River and almost drowns, until a beautiful young woman rescues him.
Shawn finally earns his place on the Lazy Jane when the engine blows while transporting a pregnant passenger, and he is forced to deliver the baby. But, his victory is short lived, since there’s no work without an engine. Meanwhile, Ned is forced to clean himself up for the first time in 20 years when two beautiful entertainers come to town.
Shawn returns home to find nothing but a small grave. Desperate to find his family, he seeks out Mary who encourages her father to give Shawn a job picking fruit. But, as Mary and Shawn spend more time together; her father eventually kicks him out. On his own again, Shawn finds work with a rival river boat gang and meets a familiar face.
After Shawn learns the truth about his father, he is reunited with the Lazy Jane crew. He and Mary run away upriver, when it begins to rain, ending the drought. But, before they can celebrate, they must prepare for the floods.