John Mathew was a Presbyterian minister who developed an interest in Aboriginal ethnography after migrating from Scotland to work on his uncle's farm in Queensland in 1864. From 1879 he published influential studies of Aboriginal culture. Although Mathew's speculative argument for the tri-hybrid origins of the Australian Aborigines has long been disproved, his discussion of Aboriginal language and social behaviour was pioneering in the field of anthropology and is still well-regarded today. Two Representative Tribes of Queensland (1910) is the result of the extensive time Mathew spent visiting the Kabi and Wakka people living in the Barambah Government Aboriginal Station. This direct experience is emphasised in the preface to the book: 'For Mr Mathew Australian origins ... have been a life study, and the knowledge bearing upon these questions, which most others have gleaned from the library shelves, he has acquired at first-hand in the native camping grounds.'

Contents: Introduction; Preface; 1. Inquiry concerning the origin of the Australian race; 2. The country of the Kabi and Wakka tribes; 3. Physical and mental characters; 4. Daily life; 5. Man-making and other ceremonies; 6. Disease and treatment; 7. Art; 8. Social organisation; 9. The family; 10. Religion and magic; 11. Myths and legends; 12. Language; Vocabulary.