Alison suggests Erica has an original idea for a play. Erica gets to work writing a script inspired by the world around her. After realising she has stage fright, Erica is forced to cast Alison as her stand-in character. Barry defends Erica to the others. That night, Erica sits outside wearing Alison's kimono and is shocked by a kiss from Barry, unclear whether he knew who it was.
Alison upsets Erica by insulting the low academic and social standards of her high school. Later, Alison visits Erica at home and meets her family. Erica, embarrassed by her family and social position, invents stories about their "real" lives. Alison plays along. Erica walks Alison home but on the way is ditched by Alison for her other friends.
Ms Belmont ridicules the students for their poorly researched essays on Greenland. Alison is the only student to receive praise. Alison Ashley, the new girl, arrives. In contrast to the class' darker and mooted fashion, Alison is cast in a glowing soft light similar to the style use to distinguished private education in the opening sequence. Erica gives Alison the tour, discovering they aren't so similar in the end. Erica becomes anxious that Alison will overshadow her.
On opening night Lennie Grubb gives Erica a pep talk, persuading her to continue with the play. After sorting out the props she is sent back to her dorm by Ms Belmont where she finds a hardcopy of her play complied by Alison. She realises all she has missed and goes back to watch the final act. Alison invites her on stage to accept the applause. Erica realises what she has to do and goes outside to find Alison.
Lennie Grubb drives Erica to camp drop-off and tries to talk to Erica about his marrying her mother. The conversation goes badly and Lennie accidently tells Erica some hurtful truths about her father. Erica tells Lennie he will never be her stepfather. Alison and Erica are assigned cabins together, much to their annoyance. Erica and Barry Holis have a flirtatious altercation in the dining hall.
The opening sequence shows a divide between the gentle, lavish and privately educated lifestyle of the wealthy, and the chaotic, harsh and publically educated environment of the poor. This classist motif reoccurs throughout the film. The lead character, Erica Yurken, is not from the gentle world of tennis and ballerinas, but the harsh world of graffiti and bullies. She is instantly drawn to the new teacher, Ms Belmont, who vows to crush the infamous 9C classroom into shape.
Erica overhears Alison on the phone to her mother and realises Alison's life might not be so perfect after all. Feeling sympathetic, Erica impersonates Ms Belmont to Alison's mother imploring her to notice her daughter. The plan backfires and they both get into trouble. Alison doesn't let her explain her actions. Erica decides she has to leave Camp Desolation and ventures to the next town, but is found by Ms Belmont.
Banding together, Darryl, Farouk, Jack and Yvonne move ahead with the David and Goliath case. At court, Dennis struggles to articulate his argument, calling on a broader, ethical understanding of justice, the Constitution and the historical Mabo v Queensland (1992) native title case. Outside, Darryl meets retired barrister Lawrence Hammill and they chat having pride in their children, and the case. Back in court, Darryl discovers they lost. With a heavy heart, Darryl must inform his friends.
Con and Tracey, returning from their honeymoon in Thailand, are collected at the airport. Back home, Con and Tracey recount all the fascinating aspects of the flight and the airline, and give out gifts from Thailand. The Kerrigans leave for Bonnie Doon the next day. While the boys go fishing, Tracey does Sal's hair and they chat about children, careers and changing times. That afternoon, Darryl admires his family, the Bonnie Doon's "serenity", and the smell of a two-stroke engine.
The Kerrigans receive a notice of "compulsory acquisition" of their family home. They soon discover that their elderly neighbours Farouk, a recent migrant from Lebanon, and Jack are being evicted too. Seeking explanation at the local council, Darryl argues that "compensation" isn't the question and decides to fight the eviction head on. Darryl turns to Dennis Denuto, an incompetent but friendly lawyer who has worked with the family previously. At home, Darryl continues to celebrate family achiev
Dale Kerrigan introduces loveable patriarch and dad, Darryl (the "backbone" of the family), mother Sal ("the other bones"), brothers Steven and Wayne, sister Tracey and her husband Con. The Kerrigans live in Coolaroo, nestled between the airport and the power lines. They are your typical working-class family, battlers with big hearts, modest dreams and a little rough around the edges. Darryl loves their "castle", but one day he gets a visit from a property valuer that changes their lives.
Darryl, Dennis and Lawrence Hammill plead their case to the High Court of Australia. Lawrence argues the case thoughtfully, but the respondents make a judgemental remark about the Kerrigan home and Darryl looses his cool. Outside, Darryl apologises for getting heated but explains they don't understand that value is in the home, not the house. During closing remarks, Lawrence argues for just terms, the pricelessness of place and the difference between a house and a home.
Darryl puts his case to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, arguing family homes are priceless, the importance of being just and fair, and "a man's home is his castle". Farouk and Darryl are optimistic, but learn AirLink is a formidable opponent. As they deliberate, Sal asks Farouk what he was offered in compensation. Farouk explains that the planes don't bother him because in Beirut is not value that is dropped, offering an anecdote on political conflict. Darryl decides to fight AirLink.
Ron Graham, a representative of AirLink, visits Dennis and offers to rectify a "mistake" made when valuing the Kerrigan house. Dennis suggests Darryl isn't in it for the money and Ron insinuates that political frustrations could spill into other parts of life. Dennis, intimidated and pessimistic, tries to convince Darryl to take the money but Darryl sticks to his guns. That night, Sal tells her sons about falling in love with Darryl and his principles. (Coarse language.)
Sal finds Darryl packing up the "pool room" and they discuss taking care of Jack and looking for a new home. Darryl talks about memories, displacement and Australia's history of land theft, when Lawrence "Lawry" Hammill makes a surprise visit. Lawry explains he was a retired QC (Queen's council), or "lawyers rich people use", who specialised in Australian constitutional law and offers to appear on Darryl's behalf, pro bono.
On a visit to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, Tadashi introduces his younger brother Hiro to the people he works with, revealing people with very different personalities and their approaches to invention.
Skua birds teach Mumble all about his place on the food chain when they threaten to eat him for lunch, and Boss Skua reveals he'd been abducted by aliens who only released him after applying a yellow band around his leg.