26/01/2017 8:16 AM AEDT | Updated 26/01/2017 10:23 AM AEDT

Julia Gillard Among Nearly 1000 Aussies On Australia Day Honours List

The former PM is one of 958 recipients.

Yuri Gripas / Reuters
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is one of the big winners on Australia Day.

Nearly 1000 Aussies have been awarded Australia Day honours in 2017, with a diverse list of recipients including politicians, rockstars, scientists and community workers.

This year 958 people have taken home awards, including former Queensland premier Anna Bligh and Julia Gillard who have been made companions in the Order of Australia -- the highest of the Australia Day honours.

Athletes including surfer Mick Fanning and pentathlete Chloe Esposito and have also received awards as well as iconic musicians Jimmy Barnes, Nick Cave and Paul Kelly.

The list also included business achievers like Perth billionaire Andrew Forrest, who was honoured for his service to the mining sector and philanthropic contributions, and group CEO of Australia Post Ahmed Fahour. Those from the legal fraternity were also recognised, with High Court Judge Stephen Gageler among those named.

The coveted Australian of the Year award went to bio-medical scientist Alan Mackay-Sim, who used his acceptance speech to call for greater investment in science.

"I am hoping 2017 will be a wonderful opportunity to talk about the importance of research on spinal cord and rare brain diseases," Mackay-Sim said.

"About the therapeutic futures of stem cells and cell transplantation, which were undreamed of 20 years ago and we must invest in young scientists and give them great careers. Researchers need a long view, much longer than the political horizon."

Meanwhile, Gillard said it was "heartwarming" to be recognised after serving as Australia's first female Prime Minister.

"I feel deeply honoured to be recognised on Australia Day," she said in a televised interview on Thursday.

"When I look back at my career in politics, the overwhelming emotion to me is gratitude to the Australian nation that we are the kind of police where you can literally jump off a boat as a 4-year-old, as a migrant, and you can end up as Australia's Prime Minister."

Hundreds of events and citizenship ceremonies are scheduled to take place across the country on Thursday. There will also be Invasion Day protests, lots of sport and the annual tradition of Triple J's Hottest 100 countdown.