It is evening at the Government Well Reserve. Cissie prepares a damper (a kind of bread) for dinner. Joe and David play with bottlecaps, until Cissie calls Joe over to help her with the dough, and has David go get her more wood for the fire.
Everyone in the family looks out for everyone else. Even Cissie, a child, helps contribute food for the whole family’s dinner.
Jimmy, Billy, and Frank return to camp drunk. Milly and Gran follow behind. Jimmy complains about the soap rations being cut. Seeing that Cissie is also upset, Jimmy promises to go give the Sergeant “a piece of my mind,” but Gran warns him he that if he does so he will get “six months.” Jimmy is unfazed, and laughs.
Jimmy is angry about the soap on behalf of his family, who he cares deeply about. However, Jimmy’s response to a lifetime of discrimination is to act with violence (as opposed to Milly and Gran’s frustration and anger). Luckily, his family often holds him back.
Gran and Milly begin to cook a stew. Jimmy contributes some stolen turnips.
Everyone contributes to the family and family meals in the best way he or she can.
The men discuss jail time. Jimmy has been in jail four times, starting when he was a young choirboy, “pinchin’ things off other people’s clothes lines.” The conversation shifts to how Sam and Milly met in the same church where Jimmy used to sing. They were married in that same church, though Jimmy jokes they were “engaged under a Government blanket.” Milly tells him to “shut up! Dawarra, nitja wetjala.”
Jimmy’s joke is that Milly and Sam had premarital sex, which prompted their engagement. Milly says, “Shut up! This is a white man,” an attempt to keep racy jokes inside the family, and to prevent a white man (Frank, who is present) from looking down on them. She does not speak in English to keep the meaning of her words a secret.
Milly calls the children and they all assemble. David returns with an old bike he has spent the day repairing. Milly serves everyone damper and rabbit stew. Frank is grateful for the meal and the meat. Jimmy drinks as the others eat.
Although Frank’s whiteness serves as a barrier between him and the Millimurra-Mundays, they have partially adopted him into their clan and happily share what little food they have with him.
Jimmy tells the group that Frank used to have his own farm. Frank verifies this, but explains that “between the rabbits…a couple of bad seasons and the bank” he lost it all. He has a family back home but has been unable to find work and send money back to them. Jimmy points out that Frank still has more freedom than an Aboriginal man. Frank can still “walk down the street after sundown,” but for Jimmy that is against the law.
As much as Frank has suffered in his life, he still has more personal freedoms than any Aboriginal person in Australia. He has freedom of movement, and the freedom to legally drink if he wants to. Unlike Jimmy, Sam, and the others, Frank is not under constant threat of arrest and imprisonment for simply living his life.
Jimmy further complains that the policemen have little respect for Aboriginal people or their animals, and frequently shoot their dogs. Jimmy remembers Streak, a dog who, before the police shot him, caught “meat for every blackfella in Northam.”
Dogs are members of the Millimurra-Munday family, contributing meat to family meals. Unfortunately, police officers, who are ostensibly enforcing the law but in reality enacting their own prejudices, have no respect for the Aboriginal community’s animals.
Jimmy, who has left the circle to tend to some cooking potatoes, returns, tripping over David’s bike. Joe jumps up and cautions Jimmy to be careful, since David has been working hard on it. Joe runs over to the bike, and Jimmy, drunk and aggressive, accidentally hits him in the nose. Sam gets up and joins the fray, pushing Jimmy and telling him to cut it out. The two men begin to fight. Frank recognizes that the police might come, which will put him in danger, so he says goodbye to Milly.
Jimmy drinks to deal with the trauma of his experience as an Aboriginal man deprived of many personal freedoms. However, his drinking can get out of control and cause him to lash out at his family. Although the Millimurra-Mundays do love Jimmy, they are willing to stand up to him when necessary.
Gran intervenes in the fight and pulls the men apart by their hair. Jimmy goes to put on his coat and reaches for the bottle of alcohol, but Milly pours it out before he can take a drink.
Although the fight was initially between Jimmy, Joe, and Sam, the entire family quickly becomes invested. Gran treats Jimmy and Sam like two children, while Milly makes sure that Jimmy will not get drunker, and hopefully will not get in legal trouble.