Leo Cassems is a renowned artist who has managed to secure his isolation by owning the only bit of land within a large, wild, mostly unvisited national park on the Australian coast.
He has quietly lost his interest in art. He has women and friends but their visits are rare. He drinks too much.
At the start of summer he is walking on the cliff tops of his domain when he notices a large hole in the middle of 'his' beach. In it he is amazed to find three children quietly lazing away their first day of summer holidays. Cassems retreats with barely a word but finds himself taken by the intriguing mental image of these three mysterious intruders. He then discovers that an old weatherbeaten cottage nearby (the 'other' piece of private land within the park) has been occupied by the odd and immensely likeable Brandy family.
He is drawn into their world and they are drawn into his.
How much he will exploit their friendship becomes a battle of emotions and issues that become increasingly fraught.