It is 1971 Tasmania. Ross Mayne is boarding at Yurnadinah, an education department hostel. He has been away from the family hop farm for a month. The night before his first trip home an unexpected liaison with Michael Nichols, sends him into a spin.
An anxious weekend of discussions, disclosures and secrets unfolds. Phillip, Ross’s older brother leaves home in a hurry. Fearing what people might say, the Mayne family fabricates a story about Phillip’s departure. Ross is offered the family farm, something that has always been Phillip’s birthright.
Ross experiences contradictory feelings. Some set him free. Others imprison him. While his eighteenth birthday is soon to be celebrated, he has to protect the image and beliefs of his parents. His own desires become a challenging second place – a place where there is plenty of ammunition to destroy a sensitive soul.
Ross comes home on a weekly basis to help the family regroup. His feelings for Michael blossom. However, his sister Fiona drops a bombshell to rival Phillip’s.
Meanwhile, Ross is unprepared for Michael’s revelation.
It could be you.
Desperately I present an unblemished persona and in doing so pretend that the events of the previous night have not exposed my own secrets. Thankfully thoughts are not words. I am safe and I am saved. I have discovered there is to be no discovery. Only the pressure to stay quiet.
But I badly need to talk. Yet just who I will open up to is uncertain. I have to think about everyone else’s reactions and forgo my own feelings.
Do I need to have secrets like the adults?
I leave the room with more haste than is intended. I am reminded again of the Pride of Ringwoods which grow under Australian conditions. Below this house. They are strong and resilient. They have to be. If not everyone of the hills will be grubbed and burnt. And replaced with another variety.
I want to go to bed with Michael. He knows that I want to be with him again. To do what we did last night.
But nobody must know that. Will anybody ever know?
Or will it be a secret all my life until I die?
How long will this go on for?
I seek guidance from higher up but I think the Supreme Being is finding me too challenging.
For now I tell myself that at least the unknown hasn’t the power to finger point.
Or the desire.