Julian Moreland, aged almost 13 years lives in Darwin with his widowed father, Craig, a colonel and helicopter flying instructor in the army. They have a close relationship, sharing a love of fishing and flying in helicopters. But Craig, who is in his late forties, has been in the military for thirty years. At Christmas, he retires from the army, and moves to Melbourne for civilian work in mid-January. On the afternoon of their arrival in Melbourne, Craig is killed in a car accident. He is placed in foster care until the funeral in Melbourne, and arrangements are made for him to live with his fathers old friends in Darwin. But upset that his father is buried in Melbourne not Darwin, he runs away to become a street kid.For the next two months he lives rough, avoiding the homeless, the gangs, and the drug addicts. Finally, he is drawn to Moorabbin Airport, and meets Arthur Cameron, the man who hired his father. Arthur takes him in, and helps Julian with his grief. One day, Julian saves a young boy from a vicious dog, and escorts him home, only to be confronted by the boys older brother and two gang friends. He is accepted into the gang when they hear about the dog attack, and starts hanging out with them. He also confronts the man responsible for his fathers death.On a very hot day in late-March, they pass a parked car with a baby locked inside. Shortly afterwards, the car catches fire. Julian smashes his way into the car, grabs the baby, and turns to run just before the car explodes. He is badly burnt, shielding the baby from the blast, and taken to hospital. Whilst recovering, he has his thirteenth birthday, and makes friends with the first four men to help him at the scene, a photographer with the international paparazzi (the babys cousin), two policemen, and the doctor now treating him. When told that Julians an orphan, the wealthy grandparents of the baby he saved offer to adopt him, and pay for helicopter flying lessons when he is old enough.