Matildas star Steph Catley’s guide to Sydney

Steph Catley, Matildas vice-captain and world-class defender for Arsenal, is one of Australia’s most celebrated athletes – she's also in town for the biggest tournament of her life. Take a look at her guide to Sydney.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Jun 2023 -
min read

You’ve done the pasta masterclass at Paddington favourite, Barbetta, what was it like? 

The pasta-making experience at Barbetta was incredible, definitely a new experience for me. I learned so much; I’ve never made pasta before. We made different shapes and one with a spinach-ricotta filling. It was delicious. I would 100% go back there. The whole place had such a great vibe, it was a lot of fun. 

When we’re in camp, nutrition is very strict. We have a chef, he does the men’s team as well, and before every game there’s fresh pasta and Bolognese – a pre-game tradition. 

Steph Catley during a pasta making class at Barbetta, Paddington

Pasta-making class at Barbetta, Paddington

You’re a huge dog fan. Where would you take the dogs in Sydney? 

I recently went to the Doggy Afternoon Tea at The Langham, I haven't been to anything like that before and I’m the biggest dog person in the world. It's something I would do in a heartbeat if I had my dog in Sydney with me. You can also get your dog groomed when you're at the spa. I haven't ever brought my dog to Sydney, but after this experience, when my dog comes back to Australia, I'll definitely be doing that. 

Steph Catley with a corgi dog at Doggy Afternoon Tea at The Langham, Sydney

Steph Catley and corgi at Doggy Afternoon Tea at The Langham, Sydney

You’re also a big fan of mindfulness and gratitude. Where can mini moments be experienced in Sydney?  

The Spirit House 光之屋 artwork by Lee Mingwei at The Art Gallery of NSW is an incredible experience. It features a large bronze Buddha and a really great part of this experience is that the Buddha may or may not have a stone in its hands, which you can take and make a wish or goal – something you want to achieve. Then if the wish or goal comes true you can choose to return the stone to the Buddha for the next person to take, which is such a cool concept. If you return it there's a book you can write in – you write the date and what happened or what your goal was – so there’s this record of all the things people have achieved, a document of their experience. The best bit was there was a stone there when I visited so now I've got this cool little stone to carry around with me throughout the upcoming tournament

The Spirit House 光之屋 artwork by Lee Mingwei at The Art Gallery of NSW

The Spirit House 光之屋 artwork by Lee Mingwei at The Art Gallery of NSW

Archive of mind by Kimsooja is also an interactive, mindfulness artwork at the gallery, where you can take a moment to reflect in the beautiful room. There’s a massive table and you take a piece of clay to make a ball then spend time sitting around the table, where there's thousands of these balls, and every person that's participated places their ball where they want. Rolling the clay ball is a reflective time, really peaceful and quiet. There's these floor-to-ceiling glass windows so you can look out to a beautiful view while you have this moment with yourself. In the hustle and bustle, going into an art gallery and having a moment of reflection – you just find so much peace. 

Steph Catley visiting the Archive of mind by Kimsooja, The Art Gallery of NSW

Archive of mind by Kimsooja, Art Gallery of NSW

What about exercise? If you’re not in camp, where do you like to train outdoors in Sydney? 

My partner Dean (Reading goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis) and I like to run along the water on the esplanade, down by the beach in Cronulla. There are cafes and there’s a track to follow. It’s scenic and beautiful. Also, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, which is obviously stunning. 

From The InterContinental in Double Bay (where the team stays in Sydney) we do a walk up to Redleaf Beach. It’s secluded, it’s got incredible cliff views and views of Sydney Harbour. It’s only a little strip of sand, but the water is beautiful. There’s also a little cafe on the edge of the hill. We often go there whenever we get an afternoon off – it’s the best little getaway when we're in the hustle and bustle of camp.  

Harbour views from Murray Rose Pool, Double Bay

Harbour views from Murray Rose Pool at Redleaf Beach, Double Bay

What about a night out, where would you head?  

Barangaroo is a lovely spot for dinner, there’s a Nobu in the Crown Towers Sydney which is one of my favourite restaurants. I also love to get a few cocktails at rooftop bar, Smoke.    

Cocktail at Barangaroo House - Smoke, Barangaroo

Cocktails at Smoke, Barangaroo House

You’re also a big coffee fan. Where are your go-to spots in Sydney? 

The Boathouse Balmoral Beach is great. The food is incredible, the views are incredible. I really like the vibe there. Also, The Grounds of Alexandria. I like the vibe, the décor. The food and coffee are next level and that's probably my favorite thing to do: eat and drink coffee. In Double Bay, we like Indigo and White Rabbit.  

Your fiancé Dean is Greek. Any insights on Sydney’s best Greek food? 

The Apollo in Potts Point is on point – it's highly recommended by Dean. It's great for authentic Greek food and has a very good vibe.  

Selection of dishes at The Apollo, Potts Point

The Apollo, Potts Point - Credit: Nikki To

What about outside of Sydney, any other favourite NSW spots? 

I’m always happy when we have a game in Newcastle. One of the girls on our team, Emily van Egmond (Matildas and San Diego Wave centre midfielder), is a local. Going to a place like Newcastle when you live overseas, you get those beach views and that real view of Australia – a lot of us like to really take that in and spend as much time by the water as we can. We often get our morning coffees and sit and watch the waves and remind ourselves we're home in Australia. The Bogey Hole and Dixon Park Beach are amazing, they're such good spots.  

Aerial view of the Bogey Hole, Newcastle

Bogey Hole, Newcastle - Credit: City of Newcastle

Destination NSW editors edited Steph’s responses for brevity and clarity.   

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