It's 1953 and the horrors of World War II are still raw and alive in many memories. Graceful yet enigmatic nurse Sarah Adams learns of the death of her half-brother and returns to Australia from London to care for her estranged mother. Working her passage home aboard an ocean liner, Sarah becomes involved in the lives of the Blighs, a wealthy Australian family. But when Sarah unwittingly discovers a potentially scandalous Bligh family secret, her future becomes forever linked with theirs.
While Olivia remains feeling unwell and disconcerted by James's continued distance, it's Elizabeth who's the most put out - irritated by the fact that Sarah continues to be the talk of the dinner table. Meanwhile, in an effort to separate her social status from the Blighs, Sarah places an unsuspecting Roy in between her and the wealthy family. Elizabeth is clearly unimpressed, but the simmering hostility takes a back seat when Olivia's health takes a turn for the worse.
Sarah's annoyance at the invasion of her privacy turns to anger when she's questioned by Jack about the discovery that Sarah is not her real name. She refuses to answer his questions, unwilling to be drawn into a defence of her character when she's the one who has had her privacy invaded. When Jack persists in demanding an explanation, Sarah does the one thing he never would have expected... she quits.
The horrors of the war cast a long, unwelcome shadow over Inverness as Jack heads out around town with Sarah on her first day at work. The past haunts Olivia in a different way. Unable to stop wondering about the woman James admitted to loving in Europe, Olivia searches for any memento he may have kept of her and soon makes the shocking discovery of who the person he loved really is.
With a religious occasion approaching, Sarah performs a spiritual cleansing in the local creek that's unfortunately witnessed by Doris Collins. While Sarah finds it hard to deal with Doris' reaction to her nudity, it is Sarah's own personal demons that she is struggling with most.
Anna and Gino's romance continues to blossom as they sneak off to spend time together, even though it's clear that something about their secret trysts is playing on Gino's mind. At Ash Park, the relationship between Olivia and James is at breaking point as Olivia struggles with the identity of James' lover.
Receiving word that her mother is gravely ill, Sarah gets a lift to Sydney with George and Anna. Elizabeth takes the decision to reveal her deepest, darkest secret in the hope that it can help James and Olivia see that there is hope for their marriage, but Olivia reacts badly to the revelation. Meanwhile, Anna asks her Aunt Carolyn for help in procuring contraception for her and Gino.
Elizabeth is rushed to hospital where Jack confirms she has suffered a heart attack. Jack tenderly looks after Elizabeth as she recovers. Heavily sedated and rambling, Elizabeth comes close to revealing a secret of her past. Elizabeth's frail health sees Anna and Gino decide to postpone telling their families about their relationship, but when Carla finds Anna's contraception hidden in her room, she becomes suspicious and confronts Gino.
Sarah and George begin a secret affair and start meeting at the cottage for their romantic trysts. Anna attempts to subtly push her father towards Sarah, hoping that if she can get them together then he will be more open to learning about her relationship with Gino, but she is frustrated by the arrival of her aunt Regina.
On the eve of Remembrance Day, George is asked to host a Japanese trade delegation. Knowing how the community will feel, George asks Jack to come to the reception in the hope that the approval of a former Japanese POW might help deal with any ill feeling, but Elizabeth is concerned about Jack's ability to handle the situation.
Newly discharged from hospital, Elizabeth is unimpressed by the proprietorial way Regina is behaving towards George and asks her to leave. With tension in the house and James's secretly growing feelings for Harry, Olivia and James agree that the best chance for their family lies in the city. After learning about his affair with Sarah, Elizabeth demands George end it, but he refuses. Meanwhile, Anna tells Gino she is expecting.
George is delighted when Sarah agrees to marry him, but when Elizabeth discovers her threat to disinherit George has backfired, she resolves to take a different approach. Meanwhile, Anna encounters complications with her pregnancy.
James sees a psychiatrist who agrees to treat his sexuality, but James and Olivia's hopes of a brighter future are challenged when George arrives and confronts his son. Anna is relieved when Gino believes that she miscarried and they decide to tell their families of their intention to marry. Elizabeth's spirits are buoyed by Regina's seizure of Sarah's job application records, knowing they will help Regina dig up the skeletons of Sarah's past in Europe. But a bigger shock is in store for everyone when a dead body floats on the surface of the river near Ash Park. But ...