Robert Brough Smyth (1830-1889) was born in Northumberland, England
the son of a mining engineer. He published books on mining and one book about
Aboriginal peoples called 'The Aborigines of Victoria: with notes relating to
the habits of the natives of other parts of Australia and Tasmania', compiled
from various sources for the government of Victoria.
Smyth emigrated to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in 1852 and spent
time on the goldfields. He then took various positions with the
Victorian survey and mining departments. He
resigned all his public offices in 1876, remaining only on the Aborigines
As a Board member Smyth had collected much information on culture and languages
of the Aboriginal peoples of Victoria. The book arose from
his efforts to gather information and artifacts of Victorian Aboriginal
cultures at a time when their vestiges were fast disappearing.
Produced in two large volumes, he has collected information on various tribes and
their customs, as well as their physical and mental character; birth and
education of children; marriage; death and burial of the dead; daily lives of
the natives; food; diseases; dress and personal ornaments; weapons; implements
and manufacturers; nets and fish hooks; methods of producing fire; canoes and
myths. Smyth also devotes about two hundred pages to Aboriginal languages, as
well as including details and customs of the aborigines in Tasmania.
Complete with hundreds of sketches, the work is still a valuable resource not
only for those with in an interest in aboriginal culture, but also those wanting to know the early history of
High quality scanned images of the whole of the original book. This CD has been
bookmarked for easy navigation, and pages can be searched, browsed, enlarged
and printed out if required.