The tinka (sand goanna) is by far the most common and widespread goanna across Australia. It is commonly found in the wet season, when breeding occurs. It digs deep, spiral burrows in a variety of habitats, and is usually found among sand plains.
The tinka is greenish-grey in colour with uniform ringed small yellow spots all over its body. The Wapar (Creation story) for the tinka teaches the Anangu people from the Central and Western Deserts how these lizards came by their body markings. It tells how the ngintaka (perentie lizard) and the tinka painted each other's bodies with fine lines and dots so they would look special for inma (ceremony).

Physical Description

Carved wooden Lizard. Decorated with red ochre and then incised with lines in a fine saw-tooth design which extend both across the body and along the back. The underside is undecorated.

Local Name



Tinka meat is an important food source for many First Peoples groups in Central Australia. Boys and girls often go with their elders into Country to learn about hunting the tinka. They learn its habits and the kind of country it likes, and they learn to recognise and read its tjina (tracks) in order to hunt it.
Anangu, the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people of South Australia and the Northern Territory, have been making carved-wood sculptures for many generations. Punu, the Pitjantjatjara term for shrub or tree is also used to refer to these sculptures and other implements made from wood. Exactly when and where the animal carvings were first made is uncertain, but the practice was encouraged by the Ernabella Presbyterian Mission in the 1950s, and the prevalence of these carvings increased significantly in Central Australia with the development of tourism at Uluru in the late 1950s. As a precursor to the commercial success of Aboriginal art in the late 1970s, the sale of carved animals to tourists enabled Anangu to develop an independent source of income.

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