As the luxurious ocean liner China Belle enters Australian waters, its passengers have little idea of the tragedy that awaits them, particularly not Mal Willoughby, who is returning to his native land to start a new life with his Chinese wife Jun Lien. The crew, led by First Officer Jake Tussup, mutinies off the coast of Australia, taking the passengers hostage. By the time the horrific ordeal is over and the crew have escaped to the goldfields of the Palmer River, Mal's beautiful wife is dead and the lives of all the survivors have been altered for ever. In the months that follow, a close bond develops between the passengers as they try to put the traumatic experience behind them. For Mal the only way to do this is to track down his wife's killers - but will he ever be able to break free from the past?