Smith opted to bat on a greenish wicket but the world number one Proteas vindicated batting first to be 90 for one at lunch in their first Test appearance in Brisbane for 49 years.
Opener Alviro Petersen was unbeaten on 45 with the top-ranked Test batsman Hashim Amla not out 29.
South Africa's openers safely negotiated the opening 10 overs under cloudy skies before young firebrand James Pattinson struck in the 11th over.
His leg before wicket appeal on Smith was turned down by umpire Billy Bowden and the young paceman urged his skipper Michael Clarke to go to the third umpire after an earlier referral on Smith failed.
Television replays clearly showed the ball hitting Smith's back pad in front of the wicket and he was given out for 10 with Pattinson enthusiastically celebrating the verdict.
But that was the only setback in an otherwise strong opening to the Test for South Africa with Petersen having the temerity to reverse-sweep off-spinner Nathan Lyon on the first morning of the match.
Amla, who took nine deliveries to get off the mark, got into his rhythm to smash Lyon over his head for six.
Australia earlier left out paceman Mitchell Starc and went with the spin of Lyon while the Proteas gave Rory Kleinveldt his Test debut in a four-strong pace attack.
The Proteas, who became the world's top side after an impressive series victory in England this year, are looking to repeat their historic series win in Australia four years ago against Michael Clarke's third-ranked side.
Australia can usurp South Africa and return to the top of the rankings with victory in the three-Test series, which also includes matches in Adelaide and Perth.