- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
- Online publication date: December 2011
- Print publication year: 2010
- First published in: 1878
- Online ISBN: 9780511695223
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511695223
Robert Brough Smyth (1830–1889) was a successful Melbourne-based mining engineer and civil servant whose international contacts included the geologist Adam Sedgwick. He also spent 16 years as Secretary of the Board for the Protection of the Aborigines. In this study of the society and customs of indigenous Australians in the Victoria region, first published in 1878, he combines his own observations with those of others who lived or worked closely with the Aboriginal population. Volume 1 discusses the Aborigines' physical and mental characteristics, demographics, social interaction, rituals, daily life and mythology. Comparisons are made throughout with other indigenous populations, particularly those of nearby Pacific and Indonesian islands. Illustrated throughout, the book takes into account the changes forced on the native population by the arrival of European settlers in the late eighteenth century and preserves much information that might otherwise have been lost.