Early associations with the Holmes family helped foster Cliff Beauglehole's interest in natural history, particularly orchids, and he was soon in touch with the leading orchidologists, William H. Nicholls and H.M.R. Rupp. Largely as a result of Beauglehole's assiduous collecting, the orchid flora of Portland district was found to contain at least 90 species and 10 varieties, and by the age of ten, he was aquainted with sixty different orchids in his district. After having attained his Qualifying Certificate Standard at Gorae State Primary, Beaglehole left school and assisted his parents on their farm in Gorae West (until 1968). He began a botanical survey of the Portland area, eventually increasing the known flora in the area by over 300 to 770.
Beauglehole started collecting plant specimens in his teens (seaweeds and orchids were Beauglehole's main interest) and sending many to the Melbourne Museum. Gradually, the study of collections of plants, insects and animal became a major lifelong occupation. In 1967 Beauglehole's private herbarium contained approximately 23,000 numbered Australian collections, including hundreds of eryptogamous plants, and at the end of March 1971 the number had risen to 37,700.
Beauglehole travelled extensively throughout Victoria and Australia, and made over 90,000 plant collections for various herbaria, as well as the study and collection of native bees, ants, wasps, mosses, lichen, hepatics, seaweeds and fungi. Beauglehole also extensively listed birds, and trapped and banded both birds and animals.
1940s Discovered new species of orchids
1950s Collected and studied bees
-1960s Surveyed bone deposits in caves in south west Victoria
1951-63 Organised the collection of storm-washed birds from Discovery Bay
1960s Studied non-vascular plants; extensive botanical trips to central, north and west Australia
1967 Conducted a full scale botanical survey of the Grampians
c 1970 Gained official financial recognition of his work for the first time. Conducted first full scale research undertaken in Australia on the grid system; made comprehensive plant lists for several National Parks in Victoria; surveyed the shires of Portland and Glenelg for the Land Conservation Council of Victoria.
1971 Australian Natural History Medallion for 'Special Study and for increasing knowledge and appreciation of natural history in Australia.
The Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria (FNVC) elected Cliff Beauglehole an Honorary Member in 1982 'in recognition of valuable services during 40 years membership".
1984 The Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of his major services in botany, conservation and ornithology.
Memberships & Publications
June 1942 Elected Country Member of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria (FNCV).
June 1943 Published first paper 'Orchids of the Portland District' in the Victorian Naturalist.
Various journal articles in Victorian Naturalist, and a major contributor in Bees of the Portland District, Tartland Rayment (June 1953)
1979-1984 Thirteen books under the heading The Distribution and Conservation of Vascular Plants in Victoria, each written to cover the Victorian conservation Council's seventy-three study areas.