Lieutenant Daniel Rooke, a brilliant young astronomer, sails on the First Fleet full of hope and ambition. New South Wales is a land waiting for scientific discovery: this is where he will make his mark.
He sets up an observatory. But his attention soon shifts from the stars to Tagaran, an Aboriginal child who begins to teach him her language. With meticulous care he records her words. He will produce a document—a key to a new language and a new world. But as the words unfold a friendship grows and a new Daniel Rooke emerges. And when he is called to duty, the lieutenant faces a dilemma that reaches to the heart of his being.