John Wagstaff from England and Bess Ward from Northern Ireland proved to be something of an underworld power couple. After doing the time in Van Diemen’s Land they join the throng of 30,000 free and unfree who cross Bass Strait. The Vandemonian presence in colonial Victoria is formidable. Bess and John Wagstaff are feisty and entrepreneurial, and see their family’s best chances catering to baser needs on the goldfields. Ultimately the family is saved through a union with the Chinese community.