Vivid Publishing - Book Publishers Australia

The Mystery of Fairyland

James Nicolas


In 1965 in Kew, Melbourne, 88-year-old Grace Tabulo passed away at her 1860’s home, Fairyland. This ended more than 20 years that Grace and her Gallipoli veteran husband Jim had made their home a tourist attraction for children in the local area and beyond.

With exhibits, stories, concerts and celebrations for events like Empire Day, Fairyland was featured in newspapers and magazines in Melbourne and abroad.

It was a unique place in a more innocent time that had a profound effect on all those who went there.
What motivated this couple to dedicate their lives to their community? And what are some of the mysteries that lie behind this story?

This is a window into post-war Melbourne suburbia which celebrates a wonderful couple and their lives’ work.



"Relive your dreams or discover for the first time the yellow brick road to Fairyland. Thanks to James for waving his magic wand in print. You will love the journey folks.
Philip Brady, TV and Radio Legend and current host of 3AW Nightline

"As you know James- I love history-- so I really enjoyed your book. Congrats on the amount of work you did-- Russ"
Russell Morris, Australian Music legend

"Its a good story and you have told it well"
Peter Gill, Journalist and Geneologist

“The Mystery of Fairyland, Kew”, by James Nicolas, is much, much more that the story of a special place for children of my age at the time to visit during the late 1940s & 50s.

It’s the well-researched biography of Grace Tabulo and her husband Jim, the migration to Australia from Croatia.

It’s mainly a happy story enshrining the community spirit and love of children of two working class people.

However there is also pathos, sadness and an intimate story of a “family” broken up, as many were in those times, by the unveiling of inescapable truths.

For me this little book of about 100 pages is also a trip back in time, to not only the leafy Melbourne suburb of Kew , but to the hard days in inner city industrial suburbs of Carlton, Collingwood and Fitzroy ( all now much desired residential areas).

This book also defines the “help one another community attitude” prevailing in those days and the struggle for so many to keep their heads above water, and while we still have people living in the margins , the comparison with today’s welfare state and our “looking after number one” attitude could not be more stark.

Anyone with a memory of the 40s & 50s ought to read this book,

Leon Wiegard OAM, Olympian, Former Fitzroy FC president, Businessman


Those Adventures in Fairyland

MAGIC happened in an otherwise unassuming cottage in the Melbourne suburb of Kew in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

There Grace Tabulo – described by broadcaster Philip Brady as “Australia’s Walt Disney” – and her Gallipoli veteran husband Jim made their home a wonderland that drew in children from far and wide.

With exhibits, stories, concerts and celebrations for events like Empire Day, Fairyland was featured in newspapers and magazines in Melbourne and abroad.

The Argus newspaper described 57 Malmsbury Street well: “In [Grace’s] pocket-handkerchief front garden there are few flowers; there is no room, for it has been turned into a children’s dream. Cements, tiles, old broken pieces of priceless china, miniature bottles, leadlights and strange and beautiful statues have been welded into a grotto which Mrs Tabulo says is only appreciated and understandable to children.”

As James Nicolas writes in the preface to his lovely book, The Mystery of Fairyland, Kew, children were welcome inside the house, where “fans, plaques and china, some of it more than 300 years old” were handled daily by “tiny but careful hands”.

In exploring why the Tabulos created this magical world for children, and what became of it, Nicolas tells a delightful story – and one with surprises, some deeply personal – that will touch even the hardest heart. 

The Senior, July 2017






The Mystery of Fairyland by James Nicolas

ISBN: 9781925590029
Format: Paperback210mm x 148mm
Extent: 112 pages
Publisher: Vivid Publishing
Category: Non-Fiction -- Biography