Seventeen-year-old Claudia bickers constantly with her younger sister Penny, and can't understand the passivity of her father, Rex. Their household is haunted by the absence of the girls' mother, and somehow they have just accepted their circumstances involving no school, no money and a cramped home with an indoor aviary as normal.
That is until a strange woman dumps her two children on Rex. When he fails to protest, Claudia decides she has had enough and plans to leave for Queensland. She gets as far as the car without wheels in the driveway, where she sets up home, vowing to earn enough money to buy new wheels that will speed her away from the madness.