Pregnant by a jailer, Mary is befriended by a quick-witted smuggler named Will and aided by a stiff-necked, moralistic British officer named Clarke, whose wife abandons him just as the ships set sail. His help was portrayed as a mission in humanity and social reform.
During a rough night at sea Mary hits her head on a bar and is knocked unconscious only to be saved and cared for by Lt Ralph Clarke. Unaware that she is “with child”, Clarke asks permission from the Captain to let Mary stay with him. He believes that by educating her, he can reform her. Clarke promised “the girl will remain an innocent under his charge” so after finding out that she is pregnant he takes his anger out on one of the other female convicts with a lash. Angered by his heartless act, Mary returns to the cells with the other prisoners.
After giving birth to her daughter on the ship, Mary and the other convicts arrive at Botany Bay. Mary named her daughter Charlotte, “after the ship”. Seeing the benefits of being a family, Mary soon marries Will and they have a son Emmanuel. Her determination is always to avoid the hunger of her upbringing and to save her children from a similar fate.
- Australian Film Institute
2005 Won "AFI Award"
Best Telefeature or Mini Series: Andrew Benson, Greg Haddrick