In recent years, calls for the adoption of inquiry-based pedagogies in the science classroom have formed a part of the recommendations for large-scale high school science reforms. However, these pedagogies have been problematic to implement at scale. This research explores the perceptions of 34 positively inclined early-adopter teachers in relation to their implementation of inquiry-based pedagogies. The teachers were part of a large-scale Australian high school intervention project based around astronomy. In a series of semi-structured interviews, the teachers identified a number of common barriers that prevented them from implementing inquiry-based approaches. The most important barriers identified include the extreme time restrictions on all scales, the poverty of their common professional development experiences, their lack of good models and definitions for what inquiry-based teaching actually is, and the lack of good resources enabling the capacity for change. Implications for expectations of teachers and their professional learning during educational reform and curriculum change are discussed.