About Us

Dave and Shirley

Our Story

If anyone had said we would be running a tourism business in Timor-Leste I would have said they were mad. We worked in Community services and education for over 30 years, we have 2 great kids who were growing up and we live in Melbourne and yet here we are, 10 years down the track but before we talk about us we need to talk about Timor Adventures. 

Timor Adventures is a social business . It is a business with a social purpose of improving economic development in the Districts of Timor-Leste. Timor Adventures does 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

Shirley and Dave

Our contact with the Timorese community in Melbourne Australia began in 1998, the year before the popular consultation that led to independence. 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 and became a Director of Timor Adventures in 2017. 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 completed his thesis on Tourism in Timor-Leste and degree at the University of Timor-Leste.

This picture of Julio is with Shirley Shackleton at Balibo.


Modest man, works hard….he is working on writing something.