The film is set in 1890s Victoria, when Laura (Susannah Fowle) enters an exclusive Melbourne ladies' college based on Presbyterian Ladies' College. The film follows her struggle for acceptance, conformity, romance, friendship and achievement over the next four years. The lesbian overtones between two school girls are obvious in the film, more so than in Richardson’s novel.
Laura Rambotham is sent to attend boarding school in Melbourne at the turn of the century. During her second year she tells everyone about a made up romance between herself and the school's minister, Reverend Shepherd. She forms an attachment with an older girl, Evelyn. When Evelyn leaves, Laura throws herself into her studies and wins the school literary and music prizes.
- Susannah Fowle as Laura Tweedle Rambotham
- Hilary Ryan as Evelyn
- Terence Donovan as Tom McNamara
- Patricia Kennedy as Miss Chapman
- Sheila Helpman as Mrs. Gurley
- Candy Raymond as Miss Zielinski
- Barry Humphries as Rev. Strachey
- John Waters as Rev. Shepherd
- Monica Maughan as Miss Day
- Dorothy Bradley as Miss Hicks
- Phillip Adams, cameo role as mathematics teacher
- Kerry Armstrong as Kate, one of the worldly-wise students