One year has passed; Whyhope has fallen into catastrophe having been hit with drought, bushfires, and floods, and to make matters worse, the hospital is under lockdown due to an outbreak of asbestos, while patients have been evacuated. Adamant that the hospital will remain closed, Hugh decides to return to Sydney. Charlie and Matt return from Germany when they discover that the Brewery has received negative reviews online. Hayley learns that it was Charlie who wrote the reviews, without Matt's knowledge, so that she could come home. Sharna Bahit arrives in Whyhope when the town is under investigation for corruption, and announces her appointment as Council Administrator, dismissing the entire council.
Hugh and Penny set aside their differences to fight for the rights of a terminally ill young mother. As she faces criminal charges, Meryl ropes in Hayley to hide evidence of her corruption from Sharna.
Hugh and Penny lock horns when she returns to work at the hospital; Sharna's mission to clean up Whyhope causes chaos for Ken, Betty, and Meryl.
Hugh's romance with Sharna hits a rocky patch when she threatens to shut down the hospital. Charlie devises a plan to solve Meryl's legal problems and help Wess family.
Hugh is forced to choose sides when Meryl plots to destroy Sharna's career. Ken reveals a dark secret when his parents visit Whyhope. Hayley has a crisis of faith when she breaks all ten commandments in one day.
Penny must decide between her loyalty to the hospital and her feelings for Hugh. Meryl's corruption trial takes a surprising twist, and Ajax takes a stand to win back Hayley.
Penny's teenage son hatches a cunning plan to rekindle the romance between Hugh and Penny. Sharna launches a charm offensive to get Hugh a high-profile job in the city. Meryl and Michael's romance faces a major roadblock.
Hugh faces his biggest decision ever, whether he can leave Whyhope and Penny for a new life in the city. Meanwhile, love comes to the Knight family when Meryl, Matt and Ajax all find new reasons to fall in love again.