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A Yarn with Innes Larkin of Mt Barney Lodge

Innes Larkin has many hats. Business owner, outdoor educator and activist are just a few. He uses his platforms to advocate and engage in climate action, but that hasn’t always been the case. He was the classic tale of someone who was always climate aware, but never engaged in action until 10 years ago when he was 40.

We are stoked that he took the time out of his day to have a yarn about his journey running an incredibly sustainable and climate oriented business and the impacts that climate intensified events are having on his business and the wild places he loves.

From the establishment in 1991, Mt Barney Lodge was founded by Innes’ parents and was one of the first tourism businesses to develop their practices around ecotourism philosophies and has held their ecotourism accreditation for almost 20 years. Innes and his wife Tracey have grown the business significantly over this time, adding guided hikes, adventure activities and wilderness journey-based school camps into their business. Their dedication to minimal impact practices is an inspiration and example for many.

Innes himself is an avid outdoorsman. Hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and surfing are just a few of the outdoor pursuits that he adores. He harnesses his infectious passion for wild places to connect people with nature using deep ecology philosophies. His aim; to foster a love of nature with as many people as possible. Why? Because the only thing that creates change, is a small group of concerned citizens who act.

Hiking at Mt Barney Lodge - courtesy of Mt Barney Lodge

How has climate change impacted you and/ or friends and family lives?

For the last 10 years, my wife and I have been putting climate change in our business planning as it poses such a threat to the survival of our business. After the 2019 fires came dangerously close to burning the place down and lately we have just experienced the climate intensified flooding events, it is a very real and imminent issue.

Our business’ selling point is being situated so close to Mt Barney, a spectacular World Heritage-listed national park. But with climate change threatening and changing these habitats, we are looking at a future where nature-focused tourism destinations will struggle to exist.

Solastalgia is a word being used more and more frequently meaning emotional or existential distress caused by environmental change. Our slogan was ‘sharing our wilderness heritage’, but we’ve now had to amend it to ‘protecting our wilderness heritage’ with climate change posing such a threat.

For the last 10 years, my wife and I have been putting climate change in our business planning as it poses such a threat to the survival of our business.

How has it been with the recent climate intensified natural disasters?

I feel like we are now in the grips of the early stages of the destruction climate change will bring. We are no longer saying it may come. It is here, and the normality we know is gone. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity is the new normal that a climate impacted world is going to have.

Fire on Mt Barney - courtesy of Mt Barney Lodge

How has climate change impacted a place you love and how you engage with it?

Talking with the scientists who are studying the effects of climate change in the local area and hearing them predict the extinctions of masses of species within the area is heartbreaking. Knowing that the 2019 bushfires is just one of potentially a series of events that will occur because of climate change.

Climate change has just intensified the gratitude I feel when I am out in the wild. To see and experience this incredible place is a privilege. And a consequence of that privilege is to do as much as I can to protect it. For example, when I train my staff, the message I push is that the single most powerful factor that turns someone from a recreator to a protector is one conversation with a passionate person. The more guides we can get doing that, the more lives we can change.

Climate change has just intensified the gratitude I feel when I am out in the wild.

What actions have you seen or done that give you hope around climate action?

The beautiful independent candidates we have standing up across Australia are giving me hope. David Pocock is standing for the ACT senate, and he’s got such a good chance thankfully. And the strong independent women will be a real force for change too.

What was the driving reason behind running as an independent politician?

I had a conversation with somebody when we were protesting at the Kerry Blockade and he asked, if you had a magic superpower what would it be? This idea permeated around in my head for a while, and I eventually concluded that I knew my skill as an orator and a passionate person could be a force for change. So that permeated around in my head for a while and then when the next election came up, I decided to go for it and if I did nothing else but scare the local politicians that would be enough.

Courtesy of Mt Barney Lodge

What is something everyone can do to create meaningful climate action?

Vote. Vote with your daily actions. Where you spend your money, where you buy your food, clothing, and services; it’s all political. Support local. And most importantly, vote for climate in the upcoming election.

Why are you raising your voice with Together We Can?

I will raise my voice with whoever is taking on this issue! So thank you, Together We Can and Outdoors People for Climate. Add your voice to Together We Can to call for climate action now.


About the Author

Imogen is an outdoor educator and guide, deeply passionate about creating experiences for people to connect with wild, natural places. She is an avid climber, surfer and runner, but anything outdoors gets her stoked! This passion and the value she has found in getting folks into wild places fuels her to fight for climate action through volunteering with organisations such as OPC to ensure these wild places stay intact for future generations.


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