Captain James Fraser, and his young wife, Eliza Fraser, sail from Sydney on the Stirling Castle. Captain Rory McBryde, the most notorious rake in New South Wales, manages to get on board and tries to seduce Eliza. Captain Fraser stops off at the penal colony of Moreton Bay which is run by Captain Fyans, who tries to seduce convict Bracefell. Bracefell escapes and hides in Eliza's room; Eliza sleeps with him, thinking he is McBryde, but is not unhappy when she sees who it is. She helps Bracefell escape.
The Frasers resume their trip on the Stirling Castle when they and the ship's crew are shipwrecked on an island near Australia on 21 May 1836. They live with the indigenous Aboriginal people, but Captain Fraser is later killed by convicts from Moreton Bay. Eliza meets Bracefell, who is now living with aborigines, and he helps rescue her.
Once rescued, Eliza earns her keep at county fairs by regaling audiences with her own tales of her adventures.
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