About Us

Dave and ShirleyTimor Adventures is a social business that aims to improve economic development in the Districts of Timor-Leste. We do this through tourism by travelling around the country, providing great tours and supporting local guides, guest houses, schools, weavers, women’s groups and many more people along the way

Our Story

Shirley and Dave have both worked in education, community development and social research for over 30 years. Their contact with the Timorese community in Melbourne Australia began in 1998. Over the following years their connections with the Timorese community grew and culminated in separate visits to Timor-Leste. Shirley took local buses and then Dave rode around on a motorcycle. Their reflections about the country were similar; It was very beautiful, the people in the districts were generous and friendly but very poor. The country had a very young population, unemployment was very high and the money they had from oil and gas was going to run out. 

They wanted to do something to support development of the country and the people in the districts in particular. After exploring various strategies that had been used in other developing countries they identified tourism as an industry that was likely to be sustainable and have a positive financial impact across many districts. The idea that tourism would be one of the key employment industries along side agriculture was subsequently identified in the Timor-Leste 30 year strategic plan a few years after Timor Adventures commenced operations. 

Moving from the idea of developing a social business to actually making it happen has been a long a complex journey over many years. Timor Adventures has achieved many of its goals but there is so much more to do. Tourism is very small in Timor-Leste; it is rated as one of the 10 least visited destinations in the world 

Our commitment to using tourism for development continues; in June 2016 we launched the Tourism for Development website tourism4development.com.au  It is a platform for extending our work in this area and making connections with others who are interested in using sustainable tourism for poverty alleviation.


Over the years we have ad many great experiences and met many wonderful people including Julio 

Julio-and-Shirley-s-smallThis is Julio, our senior guide, with Shirley Shackleton at Balibo. We think that Julio is the finest guide in the country. He is passionate about Timor-Leste, passionate about tourism and helping people learn about this amazing country. Julio has worked hard at his craft; he completed a qualification in tourism in Portugal, he has been working full time as a guide since 2008 and is currently working on his tourism thesis as part of a higher degree at the University of Timor-Leste.

We take pride in being able to say that we have done all the hard work to make your trip a relaxed and enjoyable experience. We know the best places to stay and eat and explore. All our tours are supported by local Timorese drivers and guides who have encyclopedic knowledge of their countries history and culture to share.