Profession: High school PE and science teacher
Gabby is the thumping heart and much-adored lynchpin of her close-knit group of friends. She's vibrant, grounded and strong and although she's just turned 30 she's just as energetic and physical as she was at school.
Gabby doesn't hesitate to give herself and has a strong sense of right and wrong. So, on those rare occasions when she does mess up, she doesn't let herself off the hook easily. This means she carries guilt (whether warranted or not) with a heavy heart.
Being so open and forthcoming, Gabby can sometimes get burned, but she's certainly not one to let herself get trampled over, or not learn from her mistakes. Gabby is the one who tried to keep in touch with all her friends when they disbanded and drifted apart nine years ago. She's also the one who got her friends back together and organised the fateful school reunion in their old stomping ground of Manly.
It was at Gabby's 21st birthday party that another of the group – Jason Connors – died falling overboard on a Sydney Harbour boat cruise.
Gabby lives in a small apartment close to the beach in Manly with her friends Poppy and Peta, and she is in a secret relationship with 19-year-old Paul O'Donnell, the younger brother of her best friend, Jarrod.
While Bec is the high-achieving success story of the group, her personal life is a wretched jumble of mistakes, regrets and broken hearts.
Suffering this much pain has made Bec an expert at distancing herself from her old friends and detaching herself from potentially complicated situations. This troubled young woman is much more vulnerable than she lets on, but is certainly not the ice queen she sometimes comes across as. Bec is a loyal friend and always brutally honest, even if honesty is not the best policy.
One thing that hasn't changed about Bec is her stunning beauty. She still has the ability to bring any crowd to a standstill when she walks in a room. Some people find her presence unnerving, but most of her friends simply appreciate her good looks and forgive her any faults.
Bec is trying to right past wrongs and move forward in her life, but as she's discovering, it's not an easy task.
She fled Manly nine years ago and went to live in Melbourne, barely keeping in touch or visiting anyone, until the reunion. A job opening at a local hospital in Manly may offer Bec a permanent and new beginning in her hometown.
Her closest friends are Gabby, Poppy and Stavva and she was the 'first love' of Jarrod O'Donnell, although she left him abruptly, just after Gabby's 21st birthday. In Melbourne she was dating Stephen Mulroney but since discovering that he's still involved with his wife Angela, everything is up in the air.
Profession: wner/operator - nursery and landscaping business
Jarrod is Mr Dependable; Mr Responsibility. He's the rock of the group and the one everyone can rely on – whether they need a shoulder to cry on, a hand with the barbie, or someone to tie their shoelaces. He is the protector of all the girls, especially his daughter, Zoe, and wife, Tracy, and always looks out for his younger brothers.
Jarrod takes his roles as husband, father and mate all very seriously. He does, however, have an explosive temper. Thankfully, he treats his friends like family and would never lose it with anyone he loves.
He's had some tough times in his life – Bec leaving, becoming a father, his mum dying and the usual conflicts with his brothers – however, things seem to be fairly happy and content, for the moment.
When Bec left him abruptly after Gabby's 21st birthday, Jarrod was heartbroken. He got together with Tracy only a few weeks later and, eight months later, their daughter, Zoe, was born.
Profession: "Perpetual student of Life"
If Jarrod is the rock of the group, then Poppy is the breeze and the sunshine.
She's the most left-of-centre out of all her friends and skips through life with a deep love for spontaneity and adventure. Sometimes her seemingly scatterbrain ideas are exactly that. However, more often than not, there's method to Poppy's madness.
She has some truly mature insights into the workings of the human heart and a keen ability for exploring previously uncharted territory – and helping others do the same.
Poppy loves to learn for learning's sake and, as such, is curious about just about everything. She has three unfinished university degrees and has dabbled in floristry, midwifery, anthropology and abseiling instruction, among other things.
Growing up, Poppy was intrigued and confused with her early attraction to the same sex. Although she experimented with boys including Addo, Jarrod's younger brother, she has now found a true partner in Peta and is starting to make a new life with her in Manly. While her parents have been accepting of her relationship, it is a different story for her grandmother, Olive, who's finding it hard to adjust.
Profession: Partner and book-keeper (nursery and landscaping business)
Every good man needs a good woman, and Tracy endeavours to be that woman for her husband, Jarrod.
Even though at school she was voted the student most likely to become Prime Minister, and her light, loveliness and academic prowess made everyone sure she was destined to achieve great things, Tracy never finished university.
After her friend Jason's tragic death on Gabby's 21st birthday, Tracy fell into a debilitating depression and it was only Jarrod who could coax her out. Needless to say, the pair fell in love.
Nine years on, Jarrod and Tracy are still utterly dedicated to each other – although, recently, Tracy has wondered where her life would be if the events of that ill-fated harbour cruise hadn't happened.
When she's under pressure, Tracy disassociates and becomes a stranger to herself. In many ways, that confident, hopeful young high school student is completely alien to her now.
Although Jarrod has tried to get Tracy to go back to uni, she refuses, preferring to be a "stay-at-home" mum to Zoe and wife for Jarrod. But even this is proving difficult as Tracy now feels she is a failure because she and Jarrod can't conceive the second child they so desperately want.
Ian "Stavva" Jones
Profession: Works at his family's café, Bacino
Stavva is the lovable joker of the group. At school he was the one with the whoopee cushion and the cheeky grin, and got away with it most times because his intentions were always
In Year 7, Stavva came to realise that his Italian heritage and unusual European-influenced packed lunches stood him apart from the rest of the kids – something he immediately embraced. He stopped using his real name, Ian, and adopted his mum's much sexier maiden name, Stavva. He developed a real passion for food and women and nothing much has changed since he left school.
Completely genuine and cheerful, Stavva has also morphed into a true "Italian stallion" by nurturing a love for hotted-up cars, driving a souped-up Monaro known as the Stavva-mobile. Although he loves to pursue girls, he doesn't seem to get them as often as he'd like and, in fact, he secretly harbours a desire to just find "the one" and settle down.
He sees the connection and passion between his parents as the epitome of the perfect couple but, of course, like the best Italian lads, Stavva fights with his sister, respects his father and really, really loves his mum.
As well as working in his family's café, Stavva also still lives at home with his mum and dad. His mum still cooks for him and even does his laundry, much to his father's dismay.
He's best friends with Jarrod's younger brother, Addo O'Donnell, and the instigator for Addo spending more time with the group.
Philip "Philby" McManus
Philip probably had one of the most challenging childhoods out of all his friends. He was constantly trying to protect his mum, Deborah, and younger brother, Daniel, from his violent and alcoholic father.
While they had a financially comfortable lifestyle, due to his dad's shady business dealings, Philip's emotional well-being was far from stable.
He always felt like an outsider, even among his closest friends, and was plagued by people's belief that "the apple never falls far from the tree". Eventually, Philip just started acting out the troublesome role people thought he was destined for, even though he knew deep down he was worth more than that.
After Jason's death at Gabby's 21st birthday, Philip fled the country looking for a new start. He got a job as a kitchen hand in a restaurant in London. Philip discovered a talent and passion for cooking and went on to become an excellent chef, although his demons from home were never far away.
He met his wife, Tess, when she walked into the restaurant where he was working, and now she's six months pregnant. Their trip back to Australia is the next chapter in their life together, and Philip's way to seek redemption.
Tess is a gentle, good-natured woman and, when she walked into a restaurant in London looking for a job and found Philip McManus, she knew she'd found her soulmate. The two moved in together and Philip embraced Tess's religious beliefs.
When they discovered she was pregnant, they had a small, but moving, marriage ceremony and then made plans to start their lives afresh in Australia.
While Tess was excited about the move, and held postcard images of the "promised land" in her head, the reality now is quite different. She's feeling lonely, out of her depth and is more than a little worried. The only thing keeping her going is protecting her unborn child.
Devastated by her parents' continual disapproval of her life and of her new love Philip, Tess married and moved to Australia without telling them.
Now trying to settle into her new life in Manly with the McManus family, Tess is feeling trapped and uncovering things she never knew about Philip.
Adam "Addo" O'Donnell
Profession: Various, currently in real estate
As the younger brother of Jarrod, the all-round good guy, and older brother to Paul, the local sports legend, Addo has always had trouble finding his own place as the middle O'Donnell
Even now in adulthood, trouble still manages to find him all the time, no matter how big his heart of gold is. His friends and family often feel the need to protect him for exactly this reason. His dad has had to bail him out of numerous jobs and schemes that have gone wrong –
cab driving, online investing, pyramid selling and cherry picking.
Addo grew up in awe of Jarrod and his mates and wears the badge of honorary member of the "gang" with pleasure and pride.
He has always known he has got into scrapes, but since he can't remember anything from the night of the murder he doesn't know what he's capable of.
Originally from Adelaide, Peta is a gorgeous rebel – smart, educated, beautiful and sharp as a whip. She is a proud supporter of the underdog and fights dearly against conformity and social wrongdoings, especially now she's a lawyer.
For the past two years, Peta has been working in a remote Aboriginal community near Alice Springs.
She was happily swept off her feet when the sunshiny hurricane that is Poppy blew into her life, and now she's getting used to the idea that Manly could be her new home – knowing how much it means to the woman she loves.
Exciting and elegant, Peta has never shied away from expressing herself fully and verbally, even from a young age.
Profession: Club manager
Father to Jarrod, Addo and Paul, Ron is the kind of guy everyone wants their dad to be – loyal, strong and understanding.
A third-generation Manly man, he's dependable and always there to help during a crisis, but the last tragedy was too close to home.
Last year, Ron lost his wife and love of his life to a radical liver cancer. She was gone within a short period of being diagnosed. Ron still hasn't come to terms with losing Diane and carries a lot of grief and guilt at not trying harder or doing something more to save her – even though the doctors told him there was nothing he could have done to stop it.
The one thing, apart from his boys, that keeps Ron going is The Club. Like his father and grandfather, Ron is the proud manager of one of the longest running and most popular establishments in Manly.
It's a central meeting place for Gabby and all her friends, so he gets to stay in the loop with all their lives and loves nothing more than to serve them drinks with a few warm words of advice. And, of course, The Club was the natural venue for the school reunion.
Profession: Part-time helper at the nursery and The Club
The youngest of the O'Donnell clan, Paul is cheeky, confident and full of heart, although his head is sometimes not as developed as his sporting prowess.
He's not stupid, but he suffered badly when his mother died and fell into an unexpected relationship with the person who was there to support him – his older brother's friend, Gabby.
Eleven years his senior, and also a close friend of the family, Gabby wants to keep their love quiet for now and, while Paul agrees, he's struggling to keep it under wraps. All he wants is to be with her and scream her name from the rooftops.
The untimely death of his mother during his HSC (Higher School Certificate), meant that he totally bottomed out, but still managed to pass. He's contemplating a tricky return to school – where Gabby is now a teacher.
A cricketing prodigy, Paul also loves surfing, partying and generally thinking about Gabby.
Primary School student
A sparkling, bright and vivacious young girl, Zoe is the pride of not only her immediate family, but also her uncles, grandparents and all her parents' friends and families.
She has an enthusiastic zest for life, but is also unnervingly intuitive – she never misses a beat and
doesn't forget a thing.
Zoe is aware that everything is not okay at home at the moment – grandma has gone and her parents have just lost a friend.
Zoe has been raised on the beach and loves the outdoors. She also loves living with her grandpa at his house, along with her parents and uncles. It's like a big party every night – although she does miss her grandma.
Profession: Cook extraordinaire at the family café, Bacino
Pia is the fiery, passionate and vivacious Italian heart of the Jones family. A second-generation Australian, Pia knows the struggles her parents went through and is determined to continue to foster her cross-cultural identity.
She is a force of nature, who notices everything and will always fight for her honour or that of her family, so it's best not to get on the wrong side of her.
That's not to say she's loveless - far from it. She adores her husband, Brian, and although she gets frustrated by her sometimes wayward children, Stavva and Lucia, she loves and supports them - just like every Italian mama.
Her delicious food is probably Pia's best ally, making her many friends, including Ron O'Donnell ,and mending rifts if ever there are any.
Profession: Real estate agent
The farthest thing from two peas in a pod, Brian and Pia are more like chalk and cheese – but it works well for them.
Brian is the true blue Aussie bloke, feeling deeply but being utterly reserved in the way he communicates, preferring to observe and sometimes act, rather than talk about everything. His strongly Italian-influenced family likes to talk, of course.
At work, Brian is well-regarded and trusted. His honesty and sense of integrity has seen him become quite successful, and now the most challenging and confusing element to his life is that of raising a teenage daughter, Lucia.
Profession: Student and part-time waitress at Bacino
A teenage, Italian-Australian young woman, Lucia is gutsy, down-to-Earth and sharp-witted – an irrepressible combination of her mother's passion and her father's determination. She loves to hassle her brother, Stavva, and is just at that age where her independence really takes hold.
She doesn't know what she wants to do when she leaves school, but she knows the world is her oyster. Lucia will never take no for an answer.
Deborah is the matriarch of the McManus family and –
she'd like to think – of the whole Manly community. She's strategic, scheming and calculating, and is not one to forgive
As a teenager, she not only fell in with the wrong crowd but helped create it – always able to evade responsibility, until she met George McManus.
After they wed, she soon discovered the man she married and once idolised was a violent drunk, a gambler and not too concerned about family values. At least he did as she demanded and provided money, even if it wasn't by an honest day's work.
Although she was much smarter than George, Deborah could never match his physical strength, so her eldest son, Philip, took on the role of protector for her and younger son, Daniel, until the day George shot through on them.
After George left, Deborah was determined to support her family, so she created her own empire through questionable real estate deals, shady stock market trading and making sure the council were onside.
Deborah is both proud and vain about her appearance – keeping herself and her home in immaculate condition.
She is very protective of keeping the family together, especially now her son, Philip, has returned with his wife, Tess, who's expecting Deborah's first grandchild.
Profession: don't ask...
Daniel harbours immense resentment and disdain, growing up with feuding parents and an older brother, Philip, who he could never compete against for his mother's affection. Philip also saved Daniel's skin on more than one occasion, and Daniel doesn't like owing anyone.
He goes after power and money for all the wrong reasons, and has a mighty chip on his shoulder.
Unlike his brother, Daniel never wanted to be worthy in the eyes of others, he just wants revenge for their self-righteous judgment of him. Although, deep down, Daniel is desperately lonely, he thinks love is a trap.
Even though he's never had a job, Daniel drives around in the fanciest cars and has all the latest fashions and accessories. Most people suspect that his job is illegal.
A member of the psychiatry elite in Melbourne, Stephen had the seemingly perfect life – intelligent, charming and insightful, with a beautiful home in the suburbs, a dedicated wife, two bright healthy children and a thriving career.
Then Bec Quilter entered the picture and his mid-life crisis began in earnest. Falling in love with a gorgeous young doctor was never his plan, but he'd been feeling bored and restless for some time and she brought out the enthusiasm and vigour he'd lost.
Before he can move forward, however, Stephen needs to make some decisions and be clear with his intentions towards both the women and the children in his life. Stephen lied to Bec about being separated from his wife, but has now followed her to Sydney, to where she fled.
He also has to cope with becoming a full-time single father to his teenage twins, as his wife decides she needs some time on her own.
Without a doubt, Kyle is a lot more laid back and relaxed than his twin sister, Kirsten, enjoying things that all teenage boys do – friends, footy, music and girls. But that doesn't mean he's happy about the way things have turned out for his family – in fact, he thinks it totally sucks.
Finding out his dad was leaving his mum for some uppity snobby doctor from Sydney, who's not even that hot, was a massive bombshell. And when his mum lost it and bought a first-class ticket around the world, leaving him and his sister with their dad and Bec, things got even worse.
Kyle doesn't like Sydney, doesn't like the way they play football and doesn't like his new school, but he knows he'll get through it all – thank God for the surf, his music player and his mobile phone.
Not used to having Kirsten as his only companion, Kyle doesn't know how long he can handle all her crazy scheming.
The more feisty and highly strung of the Mulroney twins, Kirsten is bright, scholastic and determined. But, right now, she's turning all that energy into anger towards her father, but mostly her father's new girlfriend, Bec Quilter.
Having to move away from your school and your friends when you're in Year 10 is a nightmare for anyone – knowing that your mother has deserted you and you're stuck having to deal with a manipulative, brainwashing cow like Bec is the worst. For this reason, Kirsten thinks she's justified in her right to seek revenge against Bec but, on a deep level, she really feels abandoned and rejected by her parents.
Kirsten has actually known for some time that her parents weren't happy, but is blaming Bec for breaking up her family and will do anything to make her pay.
Olive lives by the mantra "age is not for sissies". She's enamoured with life and is fighting off the ailments of old age with a strict diet, exercise and mental activities like cards, book club and sudoku.
Olive is the enthusiastic social cruise director of her peers and loves a fiery debate, respecting those who'll rise to the challenge. If you didn't really know her, you might not recognise her love for stirring the pot. While her disposition could be interpreted as bossy, to Olive she's just direct.
She's built her life by working hard, keeping a marriage together, raising a tribe of children and being an active charity worker, so she's by no means naïve. She simply does not suffer fools.
Olive believes if she'd been born 10 years later she might have joined the feminist movement and become a hippy. She enjoys being a grandmother more than a mother – simply because she has more time – and she feels a special connection with her granddaughter, Poppy, sharing the same adventurous spirit she has. However, she wishes Poppy had more gumption.