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Three Dog Night

Updated on October 19, 2013

What does this mean?

The Australian Macquarie Dictionary says that a three-dog night, according to Australian Aboriginals, means a very cold night. In other words, a cool night requires one dog to sleep with for warmth while a really chilly night requires three dogs for warmth.

Why did an American band formed in 1967 choose this as their name? They found it while looking through a book about Australia's indigenous people and it must have just resonated with them.

Image: Wikipedia

Another American band, Quarterflash, called themselves that after an Aussie saying: a quarter flash and three parts foolish. This was a term used to describe new immigrants to Australia. They found it in a book of Australian slang and liked it.

Some more Australian slang.

You're welcome.

His blood's worth bottling = he's a good bloke

(I've been) Flat out like a lizard drinking water = very busy

(He's got) Kangaroos loose in the top paddock = a bit crazy

Don't come the raw prawn with me = don't try to kid me

Hoo-roo = see you later

Take a squizz at this = have a look at this

You've got tickets on yourself = you have a high opinion of yourself

It stands out like a shag on a rock = it's very obvious (a shag is a large bird)

No need to spit the dummy = have a tantrum, get upset about something

Some classic Australian literature. - It's pretty good. I can say this because I didn't write any of it.

The Victorian Readers.

"The young readers were to begin at home, to be taken in imagination to various parts of the Empire, to Europe, and to the United States of America, and thus to gain knowledge of their rich heritage and acquire a well-founded pride of race".

Preface, Victorian Readers: Eighth Book

These ordinary-looking little books were typical of the type of literature that could be found in every Australian classroom during the first half of the twentieth century. They contained poems, short stories and essays and the occasional picture. You could dip into Aboriginal mythology and find out how the crow came to be black, imagine a sunrise in the Blue Mountains or scare yourself with the tale of the Hobyahs, which, although of German origin, shows you an altogether different view of the Australian bushland.

The Readers were gone from the classroom by the time I started school but my mother was a teacher and had her own set at home so I'm very familiar with them. I love them but my children think they're daggy, which is a quaint Australian way of saying 'lame'.

So how did the crow come to be black?

Bet you didn't know this.

Here is the Aboriginal myth, as told in the Fourth Victorian Reader.

A long time ago, when birds were men, a crow and a hawk tried hunting together with no success. Finally they decided to go their separate ways and hunt by themselves and meet up at the end of the day and share whatever they'd managed to catch.

The crow found his way to a lagoon where ducks were swimming about foraging for food and thought of a way to catch them. He put clay in his nostrils and a hollow reed in his mouth so he could breathe underwater, slipped into the lagoon and caught a number of ducks by silently sneaking up them and pulling them under the surface.


Before long he had quite a good haul, but he decided to try some fishing so he made his way to a river and, using his spear, caught a number of fish. After this he went back to camp.

The hawk had no luck at all. He tracked a kangaroo for miles only for it to get away from him, so when he got back to camp empty-handed, tired and hungry he was very angry to find that the crow had cooked and eaten everything he'd caught. He was even angrier when the crow accused him of being lazy and said he'd probably spent the afternoon snoozing in the sun.

The crow and the hawk fought, rolling around in the black ashes of the fire, and afterwards the crow found that he couldn't remove the ashes that were clinging to his feathers. Since that day crows have been black and they have eaten carrion and scraps.

Take the test. - It won't hurt a bit.

Have you read any Australian literature?

See results

Some classic Australian cinema.

The Getting of Wisdom
The Getting of Wisdom

Some scenes in this movie were shot at my school in Melbourne, although I wasn't there at the time.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (The Criterion Collection)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (The Criterion Collection)

An ethereal little movie about the disappearance of some Edwardian schoolgirls at Hanging Rock, outside Melbourne. The author left the answer to the mystery in papers that were found after she died.

My Brilliant Career
My Brilliant Career

This is the film that made the world sit up and take notice of Judy Davis and Sam Neill.


Back to Three Dog Night.

Who are they?

Three Dog Night formed in 1967 and went on to have hits with "One", "Mama Told me not to Come", "Black and White" and "Joy to the World", which is best known for its novel opening lines: "Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine. I never understood a single word he said but I helped him drink his wine". Unusual to say the least.

However, its members were not prolific songwriters and most of the band's recordings were cover versions of other people's music. There were also lots of members, with vocalists and musicians coming and going so regularly that they probably couldn't remember each other's names.

Currently there are six members, and twenty former members. Two of the three original lead vocalists, Danny Hutton and Cory Wells, have remained in the band since its formation and are still there today. However, Three Dog Night has not recorded an album since 1976.

More Australian literature. - Some modern novels.

Not all Australian literature features the bush, the outback and dingoes. There's crime, there's mystery, there's romance and a lot of it has a city landscape.

Introducing the Hon
Introducing the Hon

The Honourable Phryne Fisher, the mystery-solving flapper.


Maybe you love Moulin Rouge, which, despite the French name, is Aussie through and through. Maybe you love Wolf Creek (I don't).

Have you read Henry Lawson, Miles Franklin (a woman) or Banjo Patterson?

I'd be interested to know about your experience with Australiana.

Let me know what you think! - Do you have a favourite Australian author, book or movie?

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    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      4 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I remember the songs well, but I never knew the origin of the band's name. Spent 3 weeks in Australia a few years ago, and also 9 months in New Zealand. It's funny how much slang there is between these two countries, and it's all different too.

    • katy Hall profile image

      Katy Hall 

      4 years ago from UK

      I loved 'Mama told me not to come' it brought back some great memories! Also, I didn't know Hoo-roo = see you learn something new every day! Thanks for this fun lens!

    • patinkc profile image


      4 years ago from Midwest

      I loved the movie "My Brilliant Career"! And then I read the book. Loved it, too! Still love Three Dog Night!

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Rangoon House: It's a good one, isn't it?

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Craeft LM: Wow, lucky you!

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Craeft LM profile image

      Craeft LM 

      5 years ago

      I actually had the opportunity to design lights for them and for the venue down in Phoenix back in 2007. And then was invited to the event with open bar. Good times. Ahhh... how I miss getting gigs like that.

    • Rangoon House profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      There you go. I am Australian and hadn't heard the term "quarterflash", but I love it!

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @writerkath: Thanks! And that is a song you do not want in your head!

    • writerkath profile image


      5 years ago

      I used to wonder about the band's name, "Three Dog Night," but couldn't make any sense of it! And, yeah... that whole first line, "Jeremiah was a bull frog..." Never got that either! But now that song is in my head. Must go back to Walking on Sunshine I think! :) This was a fun lens!

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @julieannbrady: And take me koala back, Jack, take me koala back!

      Thanks for visiting!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I always loved the song, "tie me kangaroo down sport ... tie me kangaroo down!" ;)

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @tvyps: Maybe the Eskimo people said it too! That would make sense and theire dogs would be pretty warm.

      Yes, apparently they are still together. Thanks for the nice comments.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 

      5 years ago

      I loved The Thorn Birds when it came out in the late 70s - Australia sounded so exciting and romantic. I always loved Three Dog Night but I never knew the origins of their name. Visiting Australia is at the top of my bucket list and now I just want to go even more!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I thought that term was Eskimo but I guess I was wrong. I learned something today. Three Dog Night were originally from Oklahoma. One of the band members was arrested and sent to prison for a stint, not sure which one. I think they are still together because I have heard of them traveling around, still playing music for small music festivals. Nice lens!

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @sybil watson: Good to know. I hope you get here one day.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Diana Wenzel: Beauty, mate, your blood's worth bottling.

      I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      Love those Australian sayings. Can't wait to be learn even more of them. This was an interesting romp. Thanks!

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @MarathonRunning: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate the comments.

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @KateFeredayEshete: Yes, I read "playing Beatie Bow". I'd forgotten the Orkney link completely.

      Yes, those two novels are Australian classics. I hope you enjoy them.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. It's much appreciated.

    • KateFeredayEshete profile image

      Kate Fereday Eshete 

      5 years ago from Ethiopia

      Alas, about the only Australian book I've read is 'Playing Beatie Bow', a children's novel by Ruth Park. An Australian friend sent it to me because I spent my childhood in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and the novel has Orcadian emigrants in it. I enjoyed the book, but the Orcadian names were all wrong - it wouldn't have taken much research for Ruth Park to come up with typical Orcadian names for her emigrants. I remember seeing and enjoying the film 'My Brilliant Career' when it first came out, though I'd forgotten Sam Neill starred in it. Thanks for a great lens. It's reminded me to dig out my (unread) secondhand copies of 'The Tree of Man' by Patrick White and 'A Town Like Alice' by Nevil Shute and read them - they're Australian classics, are they not? (Though both authors were English-born.)

    • MarathonRunning profile image


      5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Great Lens!

      I didn`t know of that crow story before. I know that many cultures find that the crow is a spiritual animal and that is associated with profound life mysteries, intelligence or courage.

      This was very informative.

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks! It kind of did its own thing. I love it when that happens.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      No I don't know much at all about australia authors, but it's about time I learnt a little more.

      Actually being a kiwi I should know more, must try harder, never even hard of three dog night, interesting about sleeping with 3 dogs, I think I need to do that in mid winter.

      Thanks for writing this article i learnt a little bit of history.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great topic choice, very creative!

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your kind words.

    • Meganhere profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @FrancesWrites: Yes, it's not well known and I don't think it's been used for decades. I only know it because I remember the lead singer saying in an interview in the early 80s that that's where it came from. Why do I remember this kind of stuff? I don't know.

    • FrancesWrites profile image


      5 years ago

      Ooh, I've read some of these! I'd never heard the "a quarter flash" phrase before. Quirky!


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